Contractor grudgingly takes stand in the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry

OCTOBER 29, 2014

The contractor responsible for the Meyersdal Eco Estate house that collapsed in Alberton refused to take a stand, and when he finally relented, declined to answer questions posed to him claiming he was “exercising his constitutional rights to remain silent”.

Errol Romburgh from Romicon, the company that was responsible for the construction of the ill-fated house, speaking through his legal representative, Advocate Piet Pistorius told the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry in Pretoria today that “we are exercising our rights not to incriminate ourselves. The witness will not answer any of the questions put to him”.

The Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry started its work today. The Inquiry follows the house collapse on 18 August in Meyersdal Eco Estate near Alberton that led to the deaths of seven workers, hospitalisation of nine and survival of eight workers.

Despite a warning about the consequences of his silence, Romburgh refused to budge and answer a volley of questions put to him by the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry Presiding Officer, Phumudzo Maphaha.

The questions posed by Maphaha to Romburgh related to his presence on the day of the collapse, his role as a contractor, his compliance to occupational health and safety requirements, the whereabouts of health and safety documents relating to the project, a risk assessment certificate and appointment of competent people to man the project.

Romburgh was later given another chance to respond but he declined.

Maphaha said he noted Romburgh’s rights to remain silent and told the inquiry he would note his (Romburgh) right when making recommendations in his report. The report is also expected to be handed to the National Prosecuting  Authority (NPA).

The Commission also interviewed three workers who were on site on the ill-fated day. The workers were interrogated on issues relating to medical surveillance; training on health and safety; and whether they were provided with personal protective equipment.

The workers testified that on the fateful day they did not see what happened until they saw the structure crumble.

Sandile Mabuza, a general worker who was mixing mortar for plastering testified that he was trapped for more than two hours as he was working underneath the slap that collapsed.

The Inquiry continues tomorrow (October 30). The designer/engineer is expected to take a stand.