Department of Labour: Tongaat Mall Commission of Inquiry expected to begin its formal hearings in February

28 January 2014

A four-person enquiry established by the Department of Labour (DoL) to dig into what transpired during the Tongaat Mall disaster is expected to formally start its evidence gathering work in February.

The Tongaat Mall Commission of Inquiry has been tasked with a mandate to investigate concerns and series of events that led to the tragic Tongaat Mall that collapsed last year. The exact details on the date of the start of the Commission will be communicated in due course once the Commission has received all outstanding reports from affected parties.

The commission, once it has concluded its work, it is expected to prepare a report of its findings, formulate recommendations which will be presented to – Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, the Department of Labour’s Chief Inspector Thobile Lamati and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for their consideration.

The Section 32 hearing is usually appointed by the Department of Labour against parties whose negligence results in occupational injuries and death of workers.

Last year, following the tragic collapse of the Tongaat Mall in November Department of Labour appointed its Manager: Occupational Health and Safety, Phumudzo Maphaha to preside over the commission to investigate events leading to the collapse of the Tongaat Mall. The collapse of the Tongaat Shopping Mall left two persons dead and 29 others injured.

“To date members of the commission have visited and assessed the site, all interested stakeholders represented by their legal representatives and workers were also engaged, there were a number of issues that the commission would be pursuing with the contractors during the hearing,” said Maphaha.

The hearing will be held at Municipal offices in Tongaat. It is expected that the Commission will conclude its work in six months bar any unforeseen events.

“We expect to call between 20 to 50 witnesses to appear before the commission for interviews. In a month we expect the commission to sit for at least two weeks. The hearings will be held from Tuesdays to Fridays. Mondays will be used by members of the Commission for preparations. The pace of our work would be dependent on the availability of stakeholders” said Maphaha.

“The hearings will start at 9am to 5pm, the Department of Labour expects to spend about R2-million into the work of the commission.

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