George building collapse: Land owners distance themselves from tragic incident

Emergency services are still searching for 41 workers in the rubble. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Emergency services are still searching for 41 workers in the rubble. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published May 10, 2024


The company that owns the land where the five-storey building collapsed on Monday in George has distanced itself from employing construction workers at the site.

Neo Victoria Developments (Pty) Ltd, released a statement to EWN via their attorney, Hanno Brummer & Associates to ‘clear up misunderstandings and incorrect information’.

The law firm stated that its client is the developer of the building project and not the building contractor. They clarified that the contractor was appointed by their client to oversee the construction of the five-storey building.

The statement further said the developers had no employees on the site and the construction workers have either been employed by contractors or sub-contractors.

Emergency services are still searching for 41 workers in the rubble. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

It further said the developer, Neo Victor Developments, is assisting police in their investigation and has offered its assistance since day one.

Previously, Director of Liatel Developments, Theuns Kruger, the contracted builder of the structure told Reuters it was trying to assist those on site of the five-storey residential building.

“The investigations to follow obviously will reveal what has transpired and what has happened, but at this point in time it's just saving as many people as we possibly can,” Kruger told the publication.

IOL has reached out to Kruger for comment, however, there has not been any response yet.

George Municipality said on September 3, 2020, a pre-application form for the proposed development was submitted to the George Municipality’s Town Planning Department by Jan Vrolijk Town Planner, acting on behalf of the owners of land.

The building plan application was approved on July 6, 2023, and issued to the applicant.

“The outcome for approval follows two prior outcomes not to approve the building plan based on details required regarding services and outstanding contributions. The plans were only approved once the Building Control Officer (BCO) was satisfied that the requirements were met,” George Municipality spokesperson, Chantel Edwards said.

The development was estimated at over R39 million.

“The value of the development was estimated at R39,544,000 at the time of approval. The development consisted of a basement parking area, ground-floor parking, and four floors of residential apartments above the parking. There are 42 apartments proposed and approved on the building plans. The area of the site is 1,228 square meters, and the total area of the development is 4,943 square meters with a coverage of 877.4 square meters (71.45%),” Edwards said.

At the time, construction at the site progressed and included the concrete roof with various other disciplines busy with service installations.

“The municipality has no record of previous safety violations by the developer within the George municipal area,” Edwards said.

She further also explained compliance during construction.

“The developer with his professional team is not obliged to submit any compliance report to the municipality. The normal practise is that the owner and developer, together with their professional team will have weekly/bi-weekly, or monthly meetings and inspections where progress reports are submitted to the owner/client.

“This practice is done with no input from the municipality and the current applicable legislation does not demand that this information is submitted to the municipality,” Edwards said.

By Friday afternoon, the death toll has risen to 12.

Rescue operations continue on-site to retrieve the 41 workers still unaccounted for.

[email protected]