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Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

Singh company not registered to build housing

Woodglaze Trading, the company linked to embattled businessman Jay Singh, has been ordered to stop construction of a multimillion rand housing project in Newlands West.

The order was made by the Durban High Court on Friday after it emerged that the project had not been registered - as is required by law - with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).

The council feared that Woodglaze, which consented to the order, was just 'another vehicle' used by Singh for developments in which he was involved, and that its work might be sub-standard.

The Newlands West housing project is being built by Woodglaze, registered nominally under the name of Singh's common-law wife, Shireen Annamalay. It has been under construction for over a year and was due to be completed on December 20.

Last week, the NHBRC, represented by attorney Edward Abraham, launched an urgent application at the Durban High Court to have the project stopped when it discovered that the construction of 16 apartment blocks were not enrolled with the council.

According to court papers, the land is owned by the eThekwini Municipality, which was cited as the fourth respondent. The municipality did not oppose the application.

In its application, Julia Motapola, the council's manager of legal services, said that on November 15, a NHBRC inspector had delivered a notice of non-compliance to Woodglaze and later a notice to suspend registration, but the company failed to respond to the notice and continued building.

Motapola said it was imperative that the NHBRC ensure that building standards were adhered to, 'in the interest of housing consumers and the home building industry'.

'Of particular concern to the applicant (NHBRC) further is that the second respondent (Annamalay), a member of the first respondent (Woodglaze), is the wife of Jay Singh, the controversial businessman, developer of the Tongaat Mall where a large section of slab recently collapsed causing injury and damage... I am concerned that (Woodglaze) is another vehicle utilised by Singh for developments in which he is involved and (I) am concerned that the quality of construction done by (Woodglaze) does not meet the requirements of the applicant and might be substandard,' Motapola said.

'It seems to me that the first respondent's failure to enroll the homes constructed was deliberate and was done to avoid having to meet the requirements of the NHBRC as to building standards.'

Motapola said this was not the first time Singh had contravened building laws.

In August, he was fined R15 000 for failing to comply with the National Building Regulation and Buildings Standards Act. The court order prevents Singh from continuing to build on the Newlands site until it registers the project with the NHBRC. The order also prevents the Register of Deeds from registering or transferring the properties and prevents the municipality from issuing certificates of occupancy.

It comes as the NHBRC begins a wide-level probe of all the buildings constructed or in the process of being built by companies linked to Singh, including Gralio Construction, according to sources familiar with the investigations.

Among the questions being asked will be how Singh has been able to score so many municipal contracts despite not registering the projects with the NHBRC, as is required by law, and why he continued receiving work despite a growing reputation for allegedly shoddy workmanship.

To add to his woes, this week the eThekwini Municipality is expected to file a high court application to order the demolition of the Tongaat Mall.

City spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the application would be filed early this week.

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