Tongaat Mall: Only one reinforcing bar up to scratch

Durban - Only one of seven metal bars reinforcing a concrete beam at the ill-fated Tongaat Mall had the required length and strength, an inquiry heard on Thursday.

Dr Piet Pretorius told the labour department's inquiry into the mall's collapse in Tongaat that the others were too short. In addition, the beam should have had 19 bars, according to the engineer's design.

He said the formwork and scaffolding used to support the structure would not have played a big role in the collapse.

"The beam was not able to take much load in any case," he said.

Two people were killed and 29 injured in the collapse on 19 November last year.

Earlier Cameron Bulter, the regional manager of Form-Scaff, the company that supplied the scaffolding and formwork, said usually his company would supply scaffolding and design drawings on how it was to be installed.

He said scaffolding designs were based on engineers' drawings received from Ronnie Pillay, the foreman for Gralio Precast, the company building the mall.

During previous testimony the inquiry heard that scaffolding and formwork was being removed when the collapse occurred.

However, Bulter said while design drawings for the scaffolding and formwork had been done, no scaffolding design drawings were requested for the section that collapsed.

"It was our material [scaffolding] in use. At no stage were we asked to provide drawings in connection with the collapsed section," he said.