Mall inquiry hears from safety consultant

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IOL pic feb11 tongaat mall collapse file Associated Press Paramedics walk towards the Tongaat Mall on November 19, 2013. Rescue teams rushed to the construction site after part of the mall collapsed. File picture: AP

Durban -

The commission of inquiry into the mall collapse in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, is expected to continue on Friday.

A section of the mall, which was under construction, collapsed in November. A woman was killed and 29 people were injured.

The department of labour's occupational health and safety manager, Phumudzo Maphaha, was appointed to preside over the commission, which would investigate events leading to the collapse of the Tongaat Mall.

The department was expected to call between 20 and 50 witnesses to appear before the commission.

On Thursday, the inquiry heard that no health and safety audits were carried out in the four months preceding the mall's collapse.

Ismaiel van Zyl, a safety consultant appointed by the contractor Gralio Precast (Pty) Ltd, told the commission that he had never signed off on any scaffolding or supports to be removed at any stage during the time he worked there.

In further evidence it emerged that the building site foreman had been assigned six safety posts, when the law only allowed for a person to hold a maximum of two such posts.

Rishen Naidoo of Freyssinet Posten said he was responsible for checking the post-tensioning cables.

Only two of his reports indicated that structural engineer Andre Ballack was on site when he did his inspections.

Naidoo said on October 7 he noticed that five cables were missing and that some bars had been laid incorrectly.

The person responsible for putting the steel bars and cables into place had either not finished his work or “he was incompetent on this particular slab”.

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

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