Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. File photo: ANA

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Tuesday the provisional findings of an investigation into the damage caused by a violent storm last year painted a worrying image on the state of affairs within city departments charged with keeping records and quality control.

Mashaba launched the probe after the storm on December 30 destroyed a number of properties in the southern and western parts of Johannesburg, especially in Protea Glen in the sprawling township of Soweto.

He tasked the city's Group Risk and Advisory Services (GRAS) department with assessing  whether the construction of the worst affected homes was up to the appropriate standard, to establish the identities of contractors, the city's role in issuing certificates of occupation, and the role of lenders and banks who funded the construction. 

Mashaba said that the provisional feedback showed that one of the two developers responsible for housing construction in the affected areas was not registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).

South Africa's Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act says that any person in the business of home building should register with the NHBRC and failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to R25,000 or a one-year prison term.

December 31 – Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba on Sunday visited areas affected by Saturday afternoon’s violent storm and heavy rainfall in the south and west of the city. Photo: Herman Mashaba (Twitter)

Mashaba said the investigation had so far uncovered poor record keeping at city's building development management, incomplete applications for approval of building plans, and found that there was no foundation inspection prior to concrete being poured in some buildings.        

"Though the findings provided to me today are only provisional and in no way complete, they paint a worrying image on the state of affairs within City departments charged with effective record keeping and quality control," Mashaba said.

"To this end, GRAS has already instructed the city’s building development management and the housing department to put in place measures to immediately rectify deficiencies which were identified during the investigation."

Mashaba said that GRAS intended to approach banks linked to the investigation once independent structural engineers submitted their final report, due to be submitted next week.

- African News Agency