Date set for Tongaat mall inquiry

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IOL TONGAATTT11 20-11-2013~1 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A police sniffer dog checks the rubble from the collapsed Tongaat mall for survivors and victims. File picture: Sandile Makhoba

Durban - A commission of inquiry into the mall collapse in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, in November will begin next month, the labour department said on Tuesday.

The department's occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha has been appointed to preside over the commission, which will investigate events leading to the collapse of the Tongaat Mall, it said in a statement.

“We expect to call between 20 and 50 witnesses to appear before the commission for interviews. In a month we expect the commission to sit for at least two weeks,” Maphaha said.

The hearings would be held from Tuesdays to Fridays, from 9am to 5pm at the municipal offices in Tongaat.

Mondays would be used by members of the commission for preparation and the pace of their work would be dependent on the availability of various involved parties.

A total of R2 million was expected to be spent in the commission's work, which was expected to be concluded in six months.

A section of the mall, which was under construction, collapsed in November.

A woman was killed and 29 people were injured.

The municipality became aware that there was construction going on at the site and inspectors were sent there before the matter ultimately went to court.

The High Court in Durban granted a court order on November 14

directing the property owners, Rectangular Property Investments, to suspend all building operations.

eThekwini municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole denied that the municipality had dragged its feet in attempts to halt construction at the site.

Asked why police were not called to shut down the site, Nxumalo said the site could not be policed 24 hours a day.

The municipality had appointed a registered engineer to determine why the structure had collapsed.


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