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A trip to pay a bill ended in tragedy for a 71-year-old man who died when the outer section of a Pietermaritzburg temple wall collapsed on him on Monday morning.
The Sanathan Ved Dharama Sabha in Lotus Road, Northdale, serves the Hindu community.
Mohammed Sayed was walking to pay his electricity bill when the wall collapsed as he passed.
His grieving wife, Hafiza, was still trying to come to terms with his death.
She said that her husband was fit and active and, she felt, still had many years ahead.
“He used to always go for walks,” she said.
Hafiza said she and her husband supported their daughter and grandchild with their pension money and that it would now be difficult to manage financially. Her sister-in-law, Razia Ismail, said that Sayed was always busy and enjoyed pottering around his home.
“The person who put up the wall is to blame. The owners of the hall should have checked the wall,” she said.
The family was told about the tragedy by residents near the hall.
One relative said that when she arrived at the scene, neighbours were removing the rubble from Sayed.
The chairman of the hall, Avinash Samlall, said the wall had been built about 40 years ago when the hall was built.
The outer layer collapsed. It was a freak incident.
“The executive committee members of the Sabha Hall are extremely sorry for this unfortunate incident that has taken place and we express our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the members of the deceased’s family,” he said.
Samlall said that the wall had been considered to be very strong.
“In those days, when it was built, walls were constructed with the best building materials and there was high-quality workmanship,” he said.
Samlall said private structural engineers had been called to investigate and assess the wall and to make sure it was safe.
A structural engineer from the Msunduzi municipality also inspected the temple’s wall and indicated that adverse weather conditions could have contributed to its collapse, he said.
Msunduzi municipality spokesman Brian Zuma could not be reached for comment.