South Africa: Steel Bars Missing at Collapsed Mall

Steel bars needed to reinforce a beam holding a concrete slab at the ill-fated Tongaat mall, outside Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, were missing.

This was revealed on Wednesday at a commission of inquiry into the collapse of part of the mall during its construction on November 19 last year. Two people died and 29 people were injured.

Sipho Mbuyisa, whose company Mbuyisa Steel Fixing Services CC was responsible for all the steel required in the construction, testified that his team had fitted 19 steel bars in the beam. This was done in accordance with the engineer's plans.

The inquiry is headed by the labour department's occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha.

Maphaha asked Mbuyisa: "What if I told you that there were only seven Y32 bars?"

Mbuyisa replied: "I would be shocked sir. I would not know where those [12] beams went."

Maphaha is being helped by co-presiding officers Sandile Kubheka and Lennie Samuel, a forensic investigator.

The commission is expected to prepare a report of its findings and formulate recommendations to be presented to the labour minister and the National Prosecuting Authority for consideration.

On March 10, the commission along with engineers, conducted a site visit to the mall that was being constructed by Gralio Precast (Pty) Ltd.

The commission previously heard from site foreman Ronnie Pillay that a concrete slab sagged by 7cm in the days leading up to the collapse.

Permission to build the mall was never obtained and the eThekwini municipality had obtained a court order stopping the development.

However, building continued and the mall was scheduled to open in March this year.

The inquiry will resume on Thursday when eThekwini municipal officials are expected to give evidence.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2014 South African Press Association. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.