November 21 2013 at 02:40pm By BHEKI MBANJWA
Emergency workers leave the scene as the search for survivors was called off after a three-storey building collapsed in the South African town of Tongaat, about 45 km (28 miles) north of Durban, November 20, 2013. Rescue workers with sniffer dogs picked through rubble in search of survivors on Wednesday after a soccer pitch-sized section of the half-built mall collapsed, killing at least one and injuring dozens. It was not immediately clear how many people might be still trapped in the wreckage after the three-storey building collapsed on Tuesday afternoon. Apart from one confirmed death, 29 people, two of them in critical condition, were rushed to nearby hospitals, which initiated full-scale disaster plans, health officials said. REUTERS/Rogan Ward (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Durban - The rush by representatives of opposition political parties to the scene of the oThongathi (Tongaat) shopping centre collapse on Wednesday was cheap politicking, the ANC-run eThekwini Municipality has charged.
First it was the DA’s caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango, and his deputy, Heinz de Boer, who rushed to the scene where they were quick to tell everyone who cared to listen that the municipality could have prevented the tragedy.
Mncwango said his party had warned the municipality about sub-standard work being produced by Gralio Precast.
“Just at the last council meeting we warned about this company. Had they (the municipality) listened to us this would not have happened,” Mncwango said.
This drew criticism from city bosses, who lambasted the DA as opportunists who were scavenging on the tragedy so as to revive their political fortunes.
“This behaviour is morally reprehensible and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We are all in the period of mourning and this is the time for all of us to unite and support those affected by this unfortunate disaster,” said mayor James Nxumalo.
Representatives of the newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were also present at the scene on Wednesday, speaking to a few construction workers.
The organisation’s provincial co-ordinator, Thembisile Msane, who works in the construction industry as a civil engineering technician, said the EFF was there to provide support to the surviving workers.
“These workers are the most affected because they would have to go back to work,” she said. Msane denied that the EFF was using the disaster to score political points.
There were also those who got it wrong, like the National Freedom Party’s Youth Movement, which issued a statement incorrectly stating that it was a rugby stadium that had collapsed.
Meanwhile, the ANC called for the developers to be blacklisted. ANC spokesman, Senzo Mkhize, said that had the company complied with the court order against it and stopped construction, the disaster would have been avoided.
“The eThekwini Municipality must ensure that they pursue the matter and the police must thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to this disaster,” Mkhize said.