Durban - A Durban resident who agreed to the construction of a 25m cellphone mast in the front yard of his suburban home says he is puzzled by the reaction of his neighbours, who claim they were not consulted.
Woodlands residents say the municipality and MTN failed to adequately communicate what was being done on the private property on Doddington Crescent.
Property owner Mandla Mkhwanazi said neighbours were first informed of the development eight years ago, through posters, and no one complained until after work began in December.
eThekwini Municipality spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the mast - clad to resemble a tree - did have city approval.
“The standard special consent advertising processes were (followed).
“The processes consist of three stages: an advertisement was placed in a newspaper; registered letters were sent to every neighbour within 100m; and a notice was stuck on the front gate of the property,” Mofokeng said.
“All the above processes were (followed) and were approved.”
Mkhwanazi said: “People knew about the mast long ago, letters were sent out and they had knowledge about what was happening.”
He said he would not have allowed the mast to be erected in his yard if it posed a health risk to him and those around him.
“I would not have consented to it. I have three children, I would not place their lives in danger by agreeing to this,” he said.
He insisted he had no plans to move house. “The whole thing took eight years for them to start. The complaining only started around December - I am confused by this outrage.”
Sandisile Mnguni, who lives two houses away, claimed they were not contacted about the mast.
“We refused for this to go on, but our complaints were clearly neglected,” she said.
“We are concerned about our children and the mast is an eyesore.”
She said residents were worried about the impact the mast might have on their health, and feared it would devalue their properties.
MTN spokesman Eben Albertyn said the mast, which was part of an infrastructure upgrade, complied with the regulations.
“Customer demands and requirements determines the capacity required in an area, with the convergence of ICT traffic volumes (being) on the increase.
“It is such requirements that inform whether to erect a mast or not,” Albertyn said.
Albertyn said research had found no convincing evidence that the “very low exposure levels” from cellphone towers “cause adverse health effects”.
The ward councillor, Billie Prinsloo, said the municipality had received only one formal objection letter.
“The town planning department said all procedures were adhered to and there were no documented risks with erecting the mast,” said Prinsloo.