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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Slippery Sandton courtyard tiles injure at least 6 people

Quantity surveyor Steven Schneid, who broke his right shoulder when he fell last year, described the courtyard floor as 'a lethal pitfall'.

One of Sandton’s prestigious landmarks, the 11 Alice Lane group of buildings, commonly referred to as Standard Bank, has over the past year claimed at least six casualties.

These people were seriously injured from falling on the polished and extremely slippery tiled floor of the open courtyard on the ground floor.

Quantity surveyor Steven Schneid, who broke his right shoulder when he fell last year, described the floor as “a lethal pitfall”.

But despite warnings from him, independent experts and the Johannesburg City Council’s emergency services of the dangers posed to the public, building owner Redefine Properties has not rectified this contravention of municipal law.

Demarcating a section of the floor with warning tape last week after mounting public pressure is the extent of the action Redefine has taken.

In a letter dated November 21, 2018 from City of Johannesburg’s fire and safety senior inspector Louis van Aswegen, the company was instructed “to rectify the non-compliance urgently”.

“When a building is erected, it must comply with the Building Standards Act,” read the letter.

Redefine Properties general manager Scott Thornburn said the matter was “subject to an insurance claim for one person” and he could not give details.

Lisa Marie, one of the many casualties of the Redefine-owned Sandton property at 11 Alice Lane. Picture: Supplied

Schneid said: “After my accident, I went back and spoke with two Standard Bank employees, Amos Mukomberanwa and Tshediso Maphathe. Mukomberanwa said he had also fallen on the tiles, while Maphathe said three other people fell in the courtyard on the same day I did. One, a lady, was also hospitalised.”

Schneid said Redefine Properties maintenance division was informed. “They put up danger cones, danger tape and warning trestles all over the open courtyard the next day. A few days later, they were removed as though nothing had happened.”

He advised Redefine Properties to replace the tiles urgently.

Five months later a woman “fell on the same tiles and cracked her head open”.

He added: “She is lucky to be alive after such a severe head injury.”

Oversight caused safety risk – experts

Two independent experts, commissioned by a Johannesburg quantity surveyor who slipped and broke his shoulder on the open courtyard of a Sandton property, have found that 11 Alice Lane building owners Redefine Properties failed to comply with building requirements.

In their assessments, Cairnmead Industrial Consultants and Soilcon were scathing.

Cairnmead health and safety consultant Dr Naude said. “An owner or occupier of premises creates a public health nuisance if he or she causes or allows any public building to be so situated, constructed, used or kept to be unsafe or dangerous to health,” said Naude.

“The owner failed to complete an investigation in regard to the fall of Mr Steven Schneid.

“In the initial stage, the designer of a structure needs to ensure the applicable safety standards incorporated under Section 44 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act No85 of 1993, are complied with.”

Soilcon found the architects had not given “enough attention to the tiles used externally”. It said slip resistance tests should be done prior to use.


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