Tongaat Mall inquiry’s key witness in hospital

By
Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Two workers, Zakhithi Nxumalo and Zwelibanzi Masuku, died when a concrete slab collapsed on November 19 last year, and 29 others were injured. Two workers, Zakhithi Nxumalo and Zwelibanzi Masuku, died when a concrete slab collapsed on November 19 last year, and 29 others were injured.

Controversial businessman Jay Singh checked himself into hospital this week. His hospital stint — described as a “routine check-up” — came the day after the first anniversary of the Tongaat Mall collapse.

Two workers, Zakhithi Nxumalo and Zwelibanzi Masuku, died when a concrete slab collapsed on November 19 last year, and 29 others were injured.

The commission investigating the tragedy is set to sit again on December 4 and 5, before closing hearings for the year on December 12.

Singh is expected to appear only in February, with the delay blamed on legal representatives not being available. He is set to be the last person to appear.

His spokesman, Mervin Reddy, said: “It’s a routine check-up as part of a kidney transplant he had a few years ago.”

Singh is the central witness in the mall disaster. During testimony by his son, Ravi Jagadasan, in August, the commission was told that Singh ran the family’s network of companies as “CEO”.

Given this, Singh is likely to face a barrage of questions when he appears before the commission, including why he ran Rectangle Property Investment, the developer of the R220-million mall, and Gralio Precast, the contracted builder, but was not listed as a director of either company. Jagadasan is a director of both companies.

Singh will be expected to explain why unqualified builders were used. In earlier testimony it was revealed that brickwork foreman Prashalen Gounder was not suitably qualified and was unable to answer questions on the dimensions of a brick.

Singh is also likely to be asked why the company continued with construction of the mall despite building plans not being approved by the municipality and the issue of a stop-work order.

Building foreman Ronnie Pillay testified that Singh had instructed that work continue despite the order.

Singh will also have to answer to the outcome of concrete tests that found that the concrete had a strength of 9megapascals, compared with the required standard of 30megapascals.

Phumudzo Maphaha, chairman of the commission of inquiry, described the concrete used as being akin to a mix of water and sand.

Read more on:

Jay Singh  |  Tongaat Mall