10 June 2019

South Africa: Labour On Imperial Logistics Construction Structural Collapse Inquiry Continues

press release

Imperial Logistics Construction Structural collapse inquiry to resume - Department of Employment and Labour

The Imperial Logistics Construction Structural collapse inquiry appointed by the Department of Labour to investigate the causes of the collapsed building in Jacobs, Durban, is set to resume on 18 June 2019 at the KwaZulu-Natal Master Builders Association offices, 40 Essex Terrace, Westville.

Expected to take the stand when the inquiry reconvene is Demo Salerno, a construction site Principal Agent. Salerno, was in March when the inquiry last sat, supposed to take the stand when the inquiry adjourned after it was realised that other parties' legal representatives would require additional time than was allocated to interrogate the witness.

To date, 23 witnesses have been interrogated - with building inspector from eThekwini municipality, expert witnesses (engineers), and the Chief Executive Officer of Imperial - Steven Smith. At least four witnesses will now be expected to testify before the inquiry concludes its work.

The Section 32 inquiry started gathering testimony on 23 February 2019. The third session will start from 18-21 June 2019.

The Jacobs structural collapse led to the deaths of four workers: Bhekuyise Moses Sibiya, France Mokhuthu Sekalu, Constandino Mapukula and Siyabonga Bhane. Four other workers were injured.

This follows an incident on the 28 March 2018, in which Echo Prestress, a precast roofing company, was busy with the final installation of the concrete precast roof slab. At approximately 12H30, the precast concrete structure collapsed resulting in the deaths and injury of workers.

This fatal collapse caused structural damage to an adjacent building and damages to a heavy duty vehicle which was stationed on the public road along the perimeter fence of the facility.

Since then, the Department of Labour's inspectors issued a prohibition notice to Imperial Logistics, prohibiting it from any further work until the circumstances and root causes surrounding the collapse were investigated.

The Section 32 hearing has been appointed by the Department of Labour Chief Inspector, Mr Tibor Szana to investigate levels of compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), and negligence that caused occupational injuries and deaths of workers.

Mr. Sandile Kubeka a Department of Labour Specialist: Occupational Health & Safety is the Presiding Inspector of the Formal Inquiry. He is assisted by Mr Lennie Samuel, a Forensic Investigator from the Department of Labour's Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch.

The affected parties in the Jacobs building collapse incident include: Imperial Logistics, Tilt Up SA, Talmac Engineering, ECHO Precast, Bedrock Construction, Archi Studio, JDF Construction, Moedi Engineering, Benrob Construction, and ECHO Prestress.

The Department of Labour is investigating the incident in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. If anyone is found to have contravened the Act or its regulations, a recommendation to prosecute will be made to the National Prosecuting Authority.

NB: The inquiry starts from 10:00am on the first day, and from 19-21 it will start at 08:00am.

Media is invited to the inquiry.

Issued by: Department of Labour

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