Posted on: October 23, 2008 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa. The Roodepoort building that collapsed on a group of workers has possibly left a 28-year-old father paralysed. Gito Afionso was one of 14 workers who were injured when the three-storey building collapsed.

Two workers, Arnold Mwale, 17, from Malawi and Artur Magaizane Nombora, 23, from Mozambique, died.

Afionso has a fractured spine and could be paralysed.

On the day of the accident, Afionso was working on the roof. That’s the last thing he remembers.

He said he was not sure whether his employer had registered him for UIF or the Workmen’s Compensation Fund. The future, he said, looked bleak for him and his 8-year-old son, who lives with Afionso’s parents in the Free State.

“This is very bad. I will never work again, and my son is still young and in Grade 2.”

As Afionso contemplated a miserable future, a few kilometres away in the Princess informal settlement in Roodepoort, the family of Nombora were huddled in his brother George’s shack wondering how they would get his body back home.

George said his brother and other people had informed the employer about cracks on the wall last Tuesday and that they were afraid that it might collapse.

“He told them that if they do not want to work there they must leave as other people also needed that job. Then on Saturday I saw his body retrieved from the rubble, it was badly crushed,” said George.

Department of Labour spokesperson Page Boikanyo said the building site would be closed until structural engineers had completed a “thorough and detailed” investigation into the accident.

However, he said, they were sure the employer had contravened the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which dictates that a developer should inform the department about the development.

The department, in turn, sends engineers to do a risk assessment on the site.

Efforts to speak to Afionso’s employer failed because he put down the phone when The Star called.
Source: The Star
By: Botho Molosankwe
Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

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