Durban - Only seven steel bars, as opposed to the required 19, were in a concrete beam that collapsed at the Tongaat Mall where two people were killed in November last year, it emerged on Friday.

A crane with a pressure drill was used to break open the collapsed beam, identified as beam seven, on Friday.

Representatives of the construction company Gralio Precast and Axiom Consulting engineers, and a contingent of journalists, looked on.

This was part of a site visit by the labour department's inquiry into the collapse of the mall. A portion of the mall caved in on November 19 last year, claiming the lives of two people and injuring 29.

By late afternoon, the department's Lenny Samuels confirmed by phone that no further steel had been found in the beam.

During previous sittings of the commission of inquiry questions have arisen about the beam. Initial investigations revealed it contained only seven bars.

On Thursday, the labour department's occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha, who chairs the commission, ordered that a site visit be conducted and that machinery be brought in to break up the beam.

Engineers have previously told the commission the collapse was brought about by the collapse of two columns, identified as columns 243 and 319, or beam seven.

During previous testimony it was claimed that the columns were badly designed and that weak concrete was used.

Apart from the apparent lack of steel bars in beam seven, the concrete to make the beam was not poured in one go.

The commission resumes on September 4.