This is according to eThekwini deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala. “We took the contractors to court a month ago. We thought they had stopped,” she told reporters on the scene. She said the contractors “had not followed processes”.
Rescuers were still working digging through rubble late last night, looking for possible survivors. At the time of going to print one person had died and 29 were injured. “The entire building has collapsed. Only a couple of the outer walls remain, but the rest is gone,” said a harried Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha. “There are six sniffer dogs here; the police Search and Rescue team is here, as well as people from the Durban University of Technology.” The entire site was unstable and rescue workers were working as fast as they could, he said.
Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) president Colin Cozens told The Citizen he had no idea what may have caused the collapse. “We are shocked and hope it was not a design fault from the professionals. We are praying for the missing and injured workers.”
Cozens said MBSA had offered its assistance. “Our safety department and building inspection unit is on standby. Oversight would be by structural engineers, architects, and quantity surveyors. We have to make sure all the correct procedures were followed and, if there were any contraventions, that eThekwini were on top of them at the time.”
The architects, Boogertman and Partners, who submitted the original drawings, had no comment. Copies of the drawings are in The Citizen’s possession. The Tongaat Mall Shopping Centre was being built for Rectangle Properties Investments.
According to letting agents Richter van Niekerk Properties, the building of 15 000m2 had about 40 planned stores.
KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu was deeply shocked, said his spokesman, Ndabezinhle Sibiya. “He sends his condolences to the family of the deceased and is taking this very seriously. There will be an investigation by the eThekwini municipality, the Department of Labour, and other organisations.”
The mall was due to open on April 14, 2014.