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No one to blame for Injaka bridge collapse - prosecutor . Eng. News of 3 October 2005. 'No one will be prosecuted for the Injaka bridge collapse – for the moment. The 300-m seven-span continuous prestressed concrete Injaka bridge gave way in midconstruction on July 6, 1998, killing 14 people and injuring 19. The incrementally-launched bridge, located in Mpumalanga, was designed and built by VKE Consulting Engineers and Concor respectively. The Department of Labour (DoL) in 2002 recommended to the Pretoria Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) prosecutor’s office the criminal prosecution of Concor and VKE Consulting Engineers, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (the client) as well as two individuals – a VKE employee and a Concor employee. Pretoria cluster OHS chief prosecutor Matric Luphondo says the “initial cause of the collapse of the bridge could not be established beyond reasonable doubt”. He notes that two theories were identified during the formal inquiry conducted by the DoL, namely that either the bridge soffit failed above pier two or that the launch nose failed. Luphondo says evidence was also heard that the collapse was caused by many factors acting together, rather than one single factor. “The available direct and circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to secure a conviction in a criminal court of law on a charge of culpable homicide and/or contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in respect of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, VKE or Concor, nor any of their respective employees. “Since the root cause of the collapse could not be established beyond reasonable doubt, a solid base for prosecution does not exist.” The Pretoria office’s decision follows the disappearance of the Injaka dossier last year – said to be misplaced by the South African Police Service (SAPS) rather than lost – which then required the duplication of the dossier and the documents held by the SAPS, such as fresh interviews of some witnesses, experts and other parties involved. Some of the original material has apparently been recovered. It’s not over yet However, the more than seven-year-old case cannot be laid to rest yet. The case will now be transferred to the district in which the collapse occurred – Sabie – for an inquest. This means that the Sabie magistrate’s office will again look into the evidence, deciding whether it believes the 14 deaths were “brought on by any act or omission involving or amounting to an offence on the part of any person,” explains Luphondo. Following this, the Sabie magistrate’s office will communicate its decision back to the Pretoria OHS prosecutor, who will, in turn, transfer his own findings, as well as those of the Sabie office, to the Director of Public Prosecution, who will ultimately make the final decision to proceed with the case or to consider it closed. How long this process will take is not clear. Ecsa does not agree Engineering Council of South Africa (Ecsa) legal services manager Anthony Faul says the council does not concur fully with the decision made by the Pretoria OHS prosecutor. “We are set to continue with our disciplinary hearing in the first quarter of 2006, having identified three professional engineers who may possibly be held liable for the collapse of the Injaka bridge.” Ecsa has not disclosed the names of the engineers. Ecsa is the controlling body of engineering professionals in South Africa. Should any of the three engineers be found guilty of contravening Ecsa’s code of professional conduct, a number of actions could be taken, ranging from an official warning to permanently removing the person’s name from the council’s register. This will limit their work opportunities severely, as most companies and government departments award contracts to registered professional engineering practitioners only'.

Police close in on missing Injaka dossier.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is ‘hot on the trail’ of the missing Injaka dossier. However, should the dossier not be traced, a duplicate will be made and the case continued, says a government official. This would mean fresh interviews of witnesses, experts and other parties involved, which could be problematic since the Injaka bridge collapse happened seven years ago. The investigating officer has also since retired from the police force. The 300-m seven-span continuous prestressed concrete Injaka bridge gave way in midconstruction on July 6, 1998, killing 14 people and injuring 19. The incrementally-launched bridge, located in Mpumalanga, was designed and built by VKE Consulting Engineers and Concor, respectively. No foul play is suspected in the dossier’s disappearance, but it has been confirmed that it has been lost somewhere between the Department of Labour (DoL) and the SAPS. From the DoL and the SAPS the dossier was supposed to be handed to the public prosecutor to decide whether there are grounds to pursue the matter in court. Last year the investigating committee of the Engineering Council of South Africa (Ecsa) concluded that three registered engineers may possibly be held liable for the collapse of the Injaka bridge. Ecsa has not disclosed the names of these engineers. Ecsa is the controlling body of engineering professionals in South Africa. The DoL’s official inquiry into collapse came to an end in 2002. The three-year inquiry generated more than 30 000 pages of transcriptions, and heard the accounts of 52 witnesses, of which 11 were of a technical nature.

Below Injaka bridge collapse in 1998 in Mpumalanga. See Inspector's Report at www.labour.gov.za Go to OHS Act and follow the prompts!

Before.

After.

Inquiry urges prosecution over fatal bridge collapse. Busrep of 13 August 2002. 'An inquiry has recommended the criminal prosecution of two companies, a government department and two engineers for the 1998 collapse of the Injaka bridge near Bushbuckridge in the Limpopo province in which 14 people were killed and 19 injured. The inquiry, held in terms of section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ran for four years at a cost of several million rands. In his report released late last month, Larry Kloppenborg, an inspector in the labour department, recommended that VKE Consulting Engineering; construction company Concor Holdings; the water affairs and forestry department; John Bischoff, an engineer employed by VKE Consulting; and Rolf Dieter Heese, a Concor employee, be prosecuted criminally. Evidence showed that Bischoff was responsible for supervising and designing a bridge over the Ngwaritsane River. The bridge was to have been 300m long, 14m wide and 37m  high. Heese had been designated by his company to design the temporary works, such as scaffolding. The bridge was being built using the incremental launching technique, which is in use all over the world. The principle cause of failure was the incorrect positioning of the slide path of the prefabricated sections of the bridge. Kloppenborg found that the design of the bridge was assigned by VKE Consulting to M Gouws, under the direct supervision of Bischoff. To all intents and purposes the design of the bridge was left to Gouws, who could not have been considered to have sufficient experience in incrementally launched bridges. Gouws was one of the people killed when the bridge collapsed. Kloppenborg found that the only documentation produced at the inquiry represented a final bridge design titled "Gouws's calculations file", and various computer files. These documents, according to expert witnesses, were not comprehensive or complete, and were at best a preliminary design. Other findings by Kloppenborg were that the bridge did not satisfy minimum industry standards - specifically in design and reinforcement - and that no evidence was found of independent design review as required by terms of the contract. He also found that the design of the temporary works was entrusted to Heese, who was not a registered professional engineer. The inquiry also found that the matter of the slide path was not discussed in meetings between VKE and Concor. It also found that in some cases some sections of the bridge lacked steel reinforcements of 34 percent, and up to 74 percent in other sections. The inquiry found that a Mr Jordau, of Concor, with only practical construction experience, had identified the lack of reinforcement during the construction phase and "it was a pity he did not have the right audience", the report said'.


Allegations are being investigated that the 14 victims of the Injaka bridge disaster in Mpumalangda in 1998 died because of negligence of medical personnel. Bystanders and concerned members of the public apparently put injured people on the back of bakkies and rushed them to clinics because ambulances never arrived at the disaster scene. A total of 14 died and 19 were injured after the bridge collapsed on July 6 near Bosbokrand. A doctor allegedly chased Marelize Gouws, a junior engineer working for the VKE engineering group, out of his office. She later died of her injuries. The allegations were never investigated, although they were contained in a 25 823 page document. The document forms part of the department of labour's investigation handed in at the occupational safety division's office of Pretoria magistrate's court. A police docket containing 44 folders with photographs, plans and experts' reports was also given to the director of public prosecution. All the information will have to be studied before the state comes to a decision. Thys Gildenhuys, controlling prosecutor in the occupational safety division, said on Monday the possibility that the death of Gouws and others could be attributed to medical negligence, was being investigated before the state draws up charges. The department of labour earlier recommended that the department of water affairs and forestry, VKE and the Concor construction company should be charged with culpable homicide. Press release of 13 July 2003 emanating from the Department of Justice, Control Prosecutor, Regional Court (Occupational Safety and Inquests). The fatal incident of 6 July 2003 involving Injaka bridge collapse in which 14 persons died and 19 persons were injured. 'The State is currently still busy studying the evidence as contained in the Department of Labour's (DoL) report. The police docket is also being studied. The possibility that Marelize Gouws died as a consequence of medical negligence is also being examined. A decision in the matter is still to be taken'. Click here for the summary of the DoL formal inquiry. 

Persverklaring in Afrikaans.

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             "LANDDROS"

          "MAGISTRATE"

                            

Verwysing

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BV 33/03

 

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319 4131

 

 

 

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Departement van Justisie en Staatkundige Ontwikkeling

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PRETORIA PERSVERKLARING 

NOODLOTTIGE VOORVAL OP 6 JULIE 1998 RAKENDE DIE INJAKA BRUG WAARTYDENS 14 PERSONE GEDOOD EN 19 PERSONE BESEER WAS.

Die staat is tans steeds besig om die getuienis vervat in die Departement van Arbeid se ondersoek, na te gaan. Die getuienis vervat in die Polisiedossier moet nog nagegaan word.Die moontlikheid dat Marelize Gouws se dood toegeskryf kan word aan mediese nalatigheid eerder as die ineenstorting van die brug, sal ook volledig ondersoek word.Alhoewel die staat gemeen het dat ‘n beslissing rakende vervolging teen 4 Julie 2003 bekend sou wees, was dit weens werkdruk nie moontlik nie.


Council investigates three engineers in Injaka case. Eng News. 'The investigating committee of the Engineering Council of South Africa (Ecsa) has concluded that three registered engineers may possibly be held liable for the collapse of the Injaka bridge. Ecsa has not disclosed the names of these engineers. The 300-m seven-span continuous prestressed concrete Injaka bridge gave way in midconstruction on July 6, 1998, killing 14 people and injuring 19. The incrementally-launched bridge, located in Mpumalanga, was designed and built by VKE Consulting Engineers and Concor, respectively. Ecsa, however, as the controlling body of engineering professionals in South Africa, only takes action against individual engineers and not companies, and only those registered with the council. Compulsory registration as a professional engineer with Ecsa is not yet mandatory, but the council is busy with the necessary consultations and negotiations with those in the industry to have this aspect legalised. Ecsa legal services manager Anthony Faul says it is expected that the council will only establish a tribunal to hear the case next year, as it needs to sift through voluminous evidence and draw up a charge sheet. The Department of Labour (DoL) last year handed its report on the matter to the public prosecutor, following an official inquiry, to decide whether to proceed with criminal prosecution or not. No decision has been taken yet. The DoL report recommends the criminal prosecution of Concor and VKE Consulting Engineers, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry as well as two individuals – John Bischoff, a VKE employee and Rolf Dieter Heese, a Concor employee. Heese is not registered with Ecsa. Ecsa CEO Paul Roux stresses that the council acts independently of the DoL, and may take action regardless of what the State decides on the matter. The main drivers of Ecsa’s actions lie in section 14 of the Engineering Profession Act of 2000, wherein Ecsa has a statutory duty to take the necessary steps in the protection of the public in their dealings with registered persons. Ecsa may also take appropriate steps where, as a result of engineering-related undertakings, public health and safety is compromised. Should the Ecsa tribunal find the three engineers guilty of contravening the engineering code of conduct, a number of actions could be taken, ranging from a warning to scrapping the parties from Ecsa’s engineering register, which will severely limit their work opportunities. Roux says it is highly advisable that the public and private sectors insist on only employing registered professionals. Two years ago, following a spate of very public building or partial building collapses, Ecsa urged the compulsory registration of all engineers in South Africa – something Roux believes will enforce a certain code of conduct, and will provide the council with the jurisdiction to act against any form of gross misconduct by any engineer in South Africa. It was initially planned to have this system implemented this year, but it is a far more complex matter than first anticipated, says Roux. At the moment Ecsa is meeting with various stakeholders in the engineering industry, such as the mining industry, to define the term ‘engineering’, explains Faul. This is being done to establish an universally acceptable understanding of what type of work should be done by registered engineers only. This would specifically include structures the public frequents. Following this process, which promises to be lengthy, Ecsa will make recommendations to the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), a statutory body that coordinates the activities of built environment professions and advises the government on all issues involving these professions, as well as the compulsory registration of engineers. CBE will consult the Competition Commission, and make recommendations to the Minister of Public Works, Stella Sigcau, who will then prescribe the extent of work that may only be done by registered engineering professionals. This process may, altogether, take longer than two years. Roux emphasises that the process is complicated, as Ecsa and the CBE have to be sure they do not unnecessarily limit people’s right to work as secured in the constitution, or limit competition, which is why the CBE is compelled to consult with the Competition Com-mission on compulsory registration. In March 2003 just over 23 000 people were registered with Ecsa. Roux says it is not clear how many engineering professionals are not registered with Ecsa, but the council believes it may cover up to 60% of registrable engineers in South Africa


45 other cases pending. Eng News. ECSA regulates the conduct of engineering professionals registered with the council, and takes action against individual engineers registered with the council should they be found to have transgressed the council’s code of conduct. Ecsa legal services manager Anthony Faul says there are eight disciplinary inquiries that will be heard by a tribunal this year. The parties under suspicion will face a tribunal, typically consisting of a retired judge and two engineers specialising in the same field as the engineer under suspicion. Should the parties be found guilty of contravening Ecsa’s code of professional conduct, a number of actions could be taken, ranging from an official warning to permanently removing the person’s name from the council’s register. This will severely limit their work opportunities, as several companies and government departments provide work and contracts to registered professional  engineering practitioners only. Cases that the disciplinary tribunal will hear this year are mostly cases involving private individuals, with the State playing no role. Here somebody would have typically submitted a complaint against an engineer to Ecsa, which will then investigate the nature and extent of the matter, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of professional misconduct on the part of the engineer. Next year, however, Ecsa expects to hear cases of a more public nature – cases where the State is also conducting an investigation of its own. It is expected that the Kolonnade, Brooklyn and Mimosa incidents will all be heard by a disciplinary tribunal in 2005, says Faul. A part of the roof in the south-west wing of the Brooklyn shopping centre gave way in 2002, as did the main supporting girder in the ice rink at the Kolonnade centre in December 2001, injuring 50 people. Both shopping centres are in Pretoria. In Mpumalanga the Injaka bridge collapsed while under construction in 1998, killing 14 people.

In instances where the State is involved, it is typically the Department of Labour (DoL) that investigates an incident and compiles a report, submitting it to the public prosecutor to decide whether to proceed with criminal prosecution or not. Ecsa CEO Paul Roux explains that the council acts independently of the State, and may take action regardless of what the prosecutor decides on the matter. The main drivers of Ecsa’s actions lie in section 14 of the Engineering Profession Act of 2000, wherein Ecsa has a statutory duty to take the necessary steps in the protection of the public in their dealings with registered persons. However, the council is often dependent on DoL’s investigation, as it does not have the funding or similar power and jurisdiction as an official State body to conduct an equally thorough investigation of its own. Faul says, as DoL’s investigations may take years to complete, Ecsa is often forced to delay its own proceedings, as it awaits the outcome of the government investigation. An example of a case already six years in the making is Injaka, where the report was submitted to the public prosecutor only last year, with no decision yet on whether the State will pursue the matter. Roux believes the Injaka investigation has apparently already cost South Africa an estimated R100-million. As Ecsa is dependent on the registration fees from its members, and a subsequent budget of R15-million a year, it is currently experiencing difficulty in concluding its own investigations, simply due to the enormity of the legal costs involved. As an example, Roux notes the investigation surrounding the Northpark shopping centre, which collapsed while under construction in 1996, killing four people. A disciplinary hearing found Chris Hattingh, the professional civil engineer who designed and constructed the Northpark mall, guilty of improper conduct, removing his name from Ecsa’s register. The investigation cost the council about R700 000 to complete, and it is not even on the same scale as the Injaka bridge collapse in terms of the number of parties and possible legal costs involved, emphasises Faul. A case of a more private nature that will come to trial in front of Ecsa in 2005 is that of the Mimosa Mall, in Bloemfontein, where major cracks appeared in the centre’s parking garage, which then had to be imploded, leading to millions of rands in damages. Another is an engineer in the Western Cape who is being investigated in 38 cases involving civil work in private housing and townhouse developments. Faul says Ecsa handles about 80 or 100 complaints a year, most of which do not involve improper conduct, but rather disagreements on contractual issues, a matter Ecsa does not deal with. Roux describes the council as an effective quality-assurance entity, in that only suitably qualified people may apply for registration as a professional person with Ecsa'.

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