Controversial Durban businessman, Jay Singh, said he received a High Court order to stop work on the Tongaat Mall the day after its collapse.
|Jay Singh in his Phoenix Industrial Park office, knee-deep in plans for the Tongaat Mall.|
He also denied in an interview that the eThekwini Metro had sent him letters to halt construction. eThekwini officials had said they wrote to him four months before the cave-in, which killed two and injured many more.
'That's hogwash,' Singh said. 'The only time I was served with the court order to stop work was the day after the mall collapsed on November 20.'
He produced a copy of the court order, which he said was handed to him on November 21, and which bore an Inanda sheriff 's stamp dated November 21.
The order instructed Rectangle Property Investments CC to 'forthwith desist' from any further building operations at the mall site.
Singh dismissed as lies claims by the city that his plans had not been approved.
'I have more than 200 engineering plans and the architect's plans. They were submitted to the council in March this year,' he said, showing the Daily News copies of them.
Asked where the approved plans were for the building, Singh said they were still with the municipality.
But he gave reference numbers from the city's town planning department in uMhlanga, which he claimed was confirmation that the plans had been approved.
He said the plans for the earthworks had been approved and two referrals had been made on the pre-scrutiny plans for the building.
'The referrals were for the traffic and storm water. The engineer resubmitted the plan and it was approved. The city also wanted a R6.3 million guarantee for the widening of the road. This was paid in full to them.'
The only outstanding item was a letter from Transnet confirming the servitude (permission for use of its adjoining land), Singh said.
'The boundary for the mall is right next to the (railway) track. We have applied to Transnet for the servitude and expect to get it in the next two weeks.'
Two independent sources said Singh had overstepped the boundary and had built more than 9m into the Transnet land. The sources said Transnet was extremely unhappy with this because the mall was too close to the railway line.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday at his business premises at the Phoenix Industrial Park, Singh also said he was being targeted by the Democratic Alliance.
Singh denied he was an unscrupulous businessman who bribed city officials or used ANC political connections to further his business interests.
'Yes, I am an ANC backer, that's no secret,' Singh said. 'But I never bribed anyone or gave kickbacks for jobs. But I can tell you that this Tongaat Mall fiasco started because of a DA conspiracy against me.'
Singh claimed his woes started earlier this year when he was approached by a Tongaat ANC councillor to help recruit local labour for the construction of the mall.
'The ANC councillor appointed a community liaison officer and more than 30 people were hired from the Tongaat community. That was when the local DA councillors began clashing with me and complained to the municipality about the plans for the mall not being in order.'
Singh named the DA's Heinz de Boer and Brian Jayanathan, both councillors, as the people behind the 'conspiracy'.
De Boer said Singh was using the DA as a scapegoat.
'He must really have an inflated opinion of himself if he thinks that all the DA does is conspire against him. Focus only shifted to him after the mall collapsed.'
City manager, Sibusiso Sithole, initially refused to comment last night on Singh's counter-claims.
'If you spoke to Singh, so what? I don't want to comment further.'
When pushed to comment, Sithole said he stood by the fact that Singh had no plans for the mall and that the city was forced to go to court because of his persistent noncompliance.
He refused to be drawn on claims by Singh that the court order was only served on November 21.
'You know what you know. I don't want to say anything further. We need to clarify more issues. Once this is done, we will come back to the media with a response.'