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UPDATE: Death toll in George building collapse rises to 32

George building collapse
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Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, has led a delegation of about 50 people to George in the Western Cape to visit the site of the collapsed building.

The death toll in the tragedy has risen to 32 with 20 workers unaccounted for.

Zikalala was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of International Affairs, Alvin Botes.

Some of the experts who were part of the delegation were from the Engineering Council of South Africa and the Construction Industry Development Board.

Zikalala says the experts will help in the investigation into the cause of the disaster.

He also met with the families of those who are still missing ….

Video: George Building Collapse – Minister Sihle Zikalala on-site visit, amid death toll rising

Described as the biggest built environment disaster in South Africa’s history, it has brought discrepancies in building regulations under the spotlight.

Under current legislation, private contractors are not required to register with regulatory bodies.

President of the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions Lufuno Ratsiku says, “Our interest is that at the end of the investigation, the report must indicate the professionals involved in the planning, work, design and project management were registered with professional bodies. Not only ours but also other professional bodies. If they are not, the law must take its course. But the main message is to say that the professionals involved in projects must be registered with regulatory bodies so that we can advise and guide them in terms of the processes they need to follow now and then when they develop projects.”

The Construction Industry Development Board has recently gazetted an amendment bill which will require private construction companies to adhere to the same regulations as public entities.

Affected families

Authorities have once again called on the developers and contractors to get in touch with the affected families. Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala says, “The developer and contractors in fact have moral obligations toward the affected families and that’s why we have said the joint operations disaster team must work together to ensure the company’s brought on board, the developers and support the families.

“We’re grateful towards the Departments of Labour, and Social Development. We thank also non-state organisations whether from here in George or Gift of the Givers and others we thank them for their support,” says Minister Zikalala.

The local Ethiopian community reached out to assist the families and rescue teams with food parcels.

George Ethiopian community leader Alemseged Teklu says, “Everyone must first be considered human beings, wherever you come from it doesn’t matter, as a human being we have to think someone is a victim of this tragedy, so their pain is our pain. So, it doesn’t matter where they come from, as the Ethiopian community we believe what’s happening is sad, so we have to show our gratitude for the families and rescue team, that drove us to come here.”

A minute of silence was observed at nine minutes past two, the exact time the building collapsed a week ago.

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