Controversial Durban property mogul Jay Singh dies

Jay Singh, front, and his son, Ravi Jagadasan, were at the centre of an inquiry into the fatal Tongaat Mall collapse. File photo
Jay Singh, front, and his son, Ravi Jagadasan, were at the centre of an inquiry into the fatal Tongaat Mall collapse. File photo
Image: THEMBINKOSI DWAYISA

Controversial Durban businessman Jay Singh died on Friday morning. 

Singh had been embroiled in controversy over low-cost rental properties and the deadly Tongaat Mall collapse, which claimed two lives, for years.

“Good morning family, staff, friends and our Phoenix community, it is with a sad heart that I want to inform you of the passing of philanthropist and businessman, Mr Jay Singh this morning. May his soul rest in peace,” his spokesperson Pastor Mervyn Reddy said in a WhatsApp message early on Friday morning.

He told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that Singh, a transplant patient, died from kidney failure.

“He was on dialysis. He died at around 5.30am,” he said.

Singh was 57 years old.

“The community is shocked by his passing. He was involved in philanthropy and the messages pouring in this morning show just how many people respected him,” he said.

Singh's company Gralio Precast, formerly known as Woodglaze Trading, had scored multimillion-rand housing contracts from eThekwini Municipality despite reports of shoddy work and unfair rental practices.

While his wife, Shireen Annamalay - whose mother used to be married to Singh - is among the shareholders, his son, Ravi Jagadasan, told a commission of inquiry into the mall collapse in 2014 that his father ran the day-to-day operations of all their companies.

Singh had told the commission that he didn’t need paperwork to run his property business.

“I have built over 2000 houses, valued at R500,000 each without any plans. The [eThekwini] municipality had given me an open letter to say that I could build without plans,” he said.

In the same year, Woodglaze was given a R1.4m fine by the National Home Builders’ Registration Council for failing to comply with building requirements at a 96-unit housing project in Newlands West.

The commission of inquiry into the mall collapse found that Gralio, Singh's company that had been building the Tongaat Mall, had operated in bad faith.

Testimony from witnesses and experts revealed that the doomed mall had unqualified foremen, substandard beams and a sagging slab.


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