File photo: African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Labour said on Tuesday that an inquiry into a Durban structural collapse that left four people dead had gone into recess and would reconvene on June 18. 

The collapse occurred on March 28 last year on the premises of Imperial Logistics at 11 Milner Street in Jacobs. Echo Prestress, a precast roofing company, was busy with the final installation of a concrete precast roof slab when the concrete structure collapsed. 

Bhekuyise Moses Sibiya, France Mokhuthu Sekalu, Constandino Mapukula and Siyabonga Bhane were killed and four other workers injured in the incident.

The collapse caused structural damage to an adjacent building and damage to a heavy duty vehicle parked on a public road along the perimeter fence of the facility.

According to labour spokesperson, Teboho Thejane, construction-site principal agent Demo Salerno would take the stand upon resumption of the inquiry. 

He said Salerno was supposed to testify on Friday but proceedings were adjourned when it was realised that legal representatives of other parties needed additional time to acquire information. 

To date, 23 witnesses had been interrogated, said Thejane. These included a building inspector from eThekwini municipality, engineers acting as expert witnesses and the chief executive of Imperial, Steven Smith. 

At least four more witnesses were expected to testify before the inquiry concluded its work, said Thejane.   

DoL inspectors had issued a prohibition notice to Imperial, stopping the company from any further work, until the circumstances and root cause surrounding the collapse were investigated, he said. 

"The Section 32 hearing has been appointed by the Department of Labour Chief Inspector, Mr Tibor Szana to investigate levels of adherence to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), and negligence that caused occupational injuries and deaths of workers," Thejane said.

He said Sandile Kubeka, a DoL specialist in occupational health and safety was appointed the presiding inspector for the inquiry. "He is assisted by Mr Lennie Samuel, a forensic investigator from the Department of Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch."

African News Agency (ANA)