Niki Moore, the spokesperson for the Durban Anti-Cell Mast Alliance. In the background is an MTN mast near her city home.PICTURE: BONGANI MBATHA/ANA

Durban - The Durban Anti-Cell Mast Alliance (DACMA) said it was not shocked by eThekwini Municipality’s “somersaulting” in producing documents detailing the controversial installation of cell mast deal between the city and MTN.

In August, the lobby group created in 2017 to protest what they call the illegal roll-out of MTN cell masts across Durban, lodged papers in the Durban High Court seeking a review of a 'secret deal' between MTN and the eThekwini Municipality that saw scores of cell masts mushroom across the city.

Niki Moore, DACMA spokesperson said the city had initially announced they would work with the Alliance, but now they have changed their minds.

“This means that both the city and MTN want to keep secret the arrangements that they made regarding their huge and irregular infrastructure roll-out in Durban. The fact that both entities are now refusing to cooperate, makes this look very suspicious,” Moore said.

The deal between the two entities started in March 2016, when MTN signed a number of lease agreements with eThekwini to put up cellular base stations across Durban on municipal property.

The Daily News reported in August that when the masts began to go up, the city explained that they were ‘camera poles’ for CCTV cameras.

Earlier this year, the city acknowledged to The Mercury, Daily News sister paper, that there were some poles that were not compliant with the by-laws, but said there were "only" 40 of these, and that they were currently not operational.

At the time, the city had said there were 327 poles being used by various companies as cell masts.

“We were forced to bring this matter to court because we kept getting nonsensical explanations for what is going on, none of which was backed up with documents,” said Moore. We were extremely happy when we were informed the city would co-operate. Now the city has indicated they will not co-operate. The only possible conclusion to draw from this is that the whole deal was highly irregular, possibly corrupt, and both the city and MTN want to suppress the truth,” Moore said.

On Thursday the city acknowledged receipt of email requesting comment.

They had yet to respond at the time of publishing

Daily News