Mall tragedy: Ton­gaat res­i­dents let rip at ‘ly­ing’ Singh spin doc­tor

Weekend Witness - - News - CHRIS NDALISO

AN­GRY Ton­gaat res­i­dents called Mervyn Reddy an “ar­ro­gant liar” who took com­mu­nity mem­bers for granted. Reddy, the spokesper­son for con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­man Jay Singh, was in­ter­ro­gated by com­mu­nity mem­bers about the col­lapse of the Ton­gaat mall, which left two peo­ple dead and 29 in­jured.

In a com­mu­nity meet­ing held at the town’s com­mu­nity hall on Thurs­day evening, Reddy was caught out “ly­ing” about the le­git­i­macy of the con­struc­tion of the mall. Res­i­dents also wanted clar­ity on me­dia re­ports that the plans to com­mence with the con­struc­tion were not ap­proved by the rel­e­vant de­part­ments of the eThek­wini Metro.

Re­spond­ing to the is­sue of the plans, Reddy was adamant that the plans were 99,9 % com­pli­ant with the build­ing reg­u­la­tions and the mu­nic­i­pal by­laws.

“The plans are 99,9 % com­pli­ant with mu­nic­i­pal by­laws and the build­ing reg­u­la­tions,” he said.

How­ever, eThek­wini man­ager in the build­ing in­spec­torate and de­vel­op­ment man­age­ment unit Daniels Pen­ta­saib said the con­struc­tion was not ap­proved. “The earth­work ap­pli­ca­tion was sub­mit­ted, but was not ap­proved. It was never re­sub­mit­ted. The build­ing plan was never sub­mit­ted at all,” said Pen­ta­saib.

A court or­der was is­sued ear­lier this month be­fore the ac­ci­dent, in­struct­ing Rect­an­gle Prop­erty In­vest­ments, which is owned by a Singh fam­ily mem­ber, to stop the build­ing op­er­a­tions at the mall site.

The or­der was dis­re­garded and the ac­ci­dent fol­lowed, killing 25year­old Zakhiti Nx­u­malo and Leonard Ma­suku and in­jur­ing 29 peo­ple.

South­ern African Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Work­ers’ Union (Sactwu) rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nad Goven­der said Reddy took Ton­gaat peo­ple “for granted”.

“It is sheer ar­ro­gance for Mervyn to stand in front of us and lie about the build­ing be­ing ap­proved. He says the plans were 99,9% com­pli­ant. Go back and tell your mas­ter that your ex­cuses to us are pa­thetic,” said Goven­der

Ton­gaat Civic As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Jeeva Pil­lay said the com­mu­nity pro­posed to have an in­de­pen­dent body to in­ves­ti­gate the cause of the ac­ci­dent. “Another res­o­lu­tion taken was to cam­paign against Singh’s com­pa­nies from re­ceiv­ing gov­ern­ment ten­ders. An in­de­pen­dent com­mit­tee will be set up to in­spect the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­ports into the col­lapse,” said Pil­lay.

Com­ment­ing on be­ing la­belled an ar­ro­gant liar, Reddy told Weekend Wit­ness yes­ter­day that he was not con­cerned about what the peo­ple said about him.

“I’m not wor­ried of what peo­ple think of me. Those who know me are aware of the role I played in the Phoenix com­mu­nity. I’ve been a com­mu­nity ac­tivist for more than 22 years.

“With re­gards to the mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials say­ing the plans were not ap­proved, I would not have gone to those peo­ple if that were the case,” said Reddy.

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