boss warned about unstable building
Construction workers saw deepening cracks in a building they were working on but their boss did not take any action when they told him it was dangerous and they were scared.
Yesterday, their worst fears were confirmed when half of the three-storey office block they were building in Little Falls, Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg, collapsed, killing two workers and seriously injuring 14 others.
Three workers were airlifted to various hospitals. One worker was still trapped under the rubble by the time of going to print.
There were 48 workers on site working for GT Roofing and building firm Dune Hill.
After the accident, building inspectors declared the rest of the structure unsafe. They have also ordered that construction be halted until investigations have been completed.
Structural engineers and representatives from the Department of Labour were also on site to assess the damage.
A survivor, Mandlenkosi Zulu, 36, father of two children aged 11 and 12, has been working at the site for five months. Zulu, who is originally from KwaZulu-Natal, was lucky to be alive.
"It all started last month when we saw a huge crack inside the building and informed our boss, but he did not listen to us. Yesterday we noticed that the cracks were on the increase and we again alerted him. He called an inspector who came late in the afternoon. But construction was not stopped to deal with the problem."
"I was on the second floor when the building started trembling. I ran to the other half of the building and jumped to the ground.
"We are working on a grave site. I am deeply hurt because some of my colleagues are dead and some are lying in hospital.
"Even though we have not been informed about what is going to happen next, I have a feeling that we are going to lose our jobs."
Arnold Mwale, 19, from Malawi, is one of the men who died. He had been working at the site for two months. His brother, Sandres, 32, said: "I saw the building collapse. There were people on top of it and inside."
Sniffer dogs were on site when Sowetan visited yesterday.
Police spokesman Inspector Karen Jacobs said: "A case of culpable homicide is being investigated. Once we have completed the investigation we will charge the responsible person or company."
A company spokesman refused to comment.