KZN Labour Department: Ballito sand bank was not properly secured

A sand bank collapsed on top of five construction workers in Ballito, north of Durban recently killing four and leaving one seriously injured. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Media.

A sand bank collapsed on top of five construction workers in Ballito, north of Durban recently killing four and leaving one seriously injured. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Media.

Published May 27, 2024


The KZN Department of Employment and Labour said while the investigation into the collapse of a sand bank in Ballito recently that left four construction workers dead and another injured is still ongoing, the preliminary findings have revealed that the bank collapsed because it was not properly secured.

Provincial chief inspector Mlungisi Zondi confirmed that the investigation into the incident was still in progress.

“There are no detailed findings to share except that the sand collapsed because it was not properly secured,” he said.

Zondi said at this stage of the investigation the experts that will be involved will be determined by the investigation.

“First we do administrative compliance and look at what was done by parties involved. After that, we assess that and then compare it with our technical report.

“The department has the necessary skills to draw a reasonable conclusion. Should we require specialist knowledge we don’t possess, we will use external service providers,” he said.

Trade union federation Cosatu has called on the department to include the union as observers in investigations involving workers who have been injured or killed while on duty.

There have been 34 deaths of workers in George in the Western Cape, five at eNgcobo in the Eastern Cape, and 11 fishermen went missing and are presumed drowned off the coast of Hout Bay in the Western Cape.

Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said when there are cases like the Ballito incident, the department defines stakeholders as those who have been affected.

“Cosatu is demanding observatory status during the investigation process to ensure that the interests of the workers and their families are covered.”

Mkhize said it was important for the union to know the outcome of these investigations in terms of who was at fault, consequence management and accountability.

“This will ensure a conducive safe workplace environment for the workers at (the companies involved) and ensure their interests are taken care of,” he said.

Cosatu told “The Mercury” last week that South Africa had very clear and progressive health and safety laws and building codes, but the recent disasters exposing and resulting in an alarming numbers of worker deaths suggest a system that is not working.

In the report, acting Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks said these tragedies were another reminder that the lives of workers depend upon strengthening labour laws and in tightening their enforcement.

He said workers continue to lose their lives at the hands of criminally negligent employers when safety measures are not put in place and adhered to and called for a speedy investigation.

Mkhize said workers have fought hard to have these laws in place and called on everyone, especially companies to enforce the Occupational Health and Safety laws.

“Let’s put workers’ lives first and observe the health and safety regulations.”

Mkhize, who was at the scene in Ballito on the day of the incident, said union leadership visited the survivor, Coseda Marhubeni, in hospital and the families of the deceased to offer their condolences on Wednesday.

He said while Coseda’s family were praying for his recovery, they were also mourning the loss of relative Archi Marhubeni, who is one of the four workers who died in the same incident.

“He (Coseda) said he is in pain but he is recovering,” said Mkhize.

The Mercury