Durban - A structural engineer was not always present to ensure that concrete slabs at Tongaat shopping mall in Durban were correctly installed, an inquiry heard on Thursday.
Rishen Naidoo of Freyssinet Posten said he was responsible for checking the post-tensioning cables of concrete slabs.
Only two of his reports indicated that structural engineer Andre Ballack was on site when he did his inspections.
Ballack only signed one of the reports while Naidoo noted on another that Ballack was present.
Asked if this was irregular, Naidoo said: “Irrespective of whether the engineer is on site I have to do my inspection.”
Naidoo was giving evidence before a three-man commission of inquiry into the collapse of the Tongaat Mall, outside Durban, on Tuesday, November 19, while it was still under construction. Two people were killed and 29 others injured.
The commission is headed by the labour department's occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha.
Naidoo said his inspection had to take place prior to concrete being poured. On one occasion he had been asked by his immediate superior to inspect a slab to ensure that reinforcing steel had been correctly laid.
Naidoo said on that occasion, 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”.
Naidoo said when he worked with other clients the structural engineer would usually be on site when he conducted his inspections.
He said he was aware that the eThekwini Metro municipality had obtained a court order to stop construction on the site.
“But then I was told that everything was sorted and the work continued.”