eThekwini to come clean over cellphone towers furore
City manager Sipho Nzuza confirmed this after the issue had generated huge public interest.
It comes on the back of the Durban Anti-Cell Mast Alliance (Dacma) lodging papers with the Durban High Court last week, asking for a review of the “secret deal” between MTN and the city concluded in 2016.
Nzuza said while the city was yet to be served a summons, it was willing to provide any information required pertaining to the use of municipal land for erection of masts.
He also said some of the masts were erected on private land and the city had no control over those because cellular companies negotiated directly with the landowners.
“Initially the city had an agreement with the cellular network to erect masts with an interest of mounting camera surveillance TVs on them.
“However, this had to be done after proper public consultation and the community was allowed to appeal if dissatisfied with the process.
“There is a committee that deals with land use management issues. I believe that had the cellular company used any of the public space, the committee and communities concerned were notified and had given their approval.”
Nzuza said once the city received the summons, their legal department would co-operate.
In the court papers, Dacma, which was formed last year, accused the eThekwini Municipality and MTN of disregarding the city’s by-laws and the town planning scheme and contravening national legislation, including the National Environmental Management Act, health guidelines, the Civil Aviation Act, section 33 of the constitution, the Promotion of Justice Act and the Municipal Systems Act.
Dacma also accused both entities of committing fraud.
The organisation’s spokesperson, Niki Moore, said it had been forced to go to court because both parties had lied about their secret arrangement.
“This infrastructure roll-out was unprocedural and secretive, with the result that MTN put up hundreds of cell masts next to schools and in residential areas with no public consultation, site planning and scoping,” Moore said.
Dacma’s biggest concern was the effects of long-term electromagnetic radiation.
Moore said the aim of the group was to combat unwanted and unnecessary cell masts, to pressure the government into revising microwave radiation limits from cell masts and to lobby for less harmful communication technologies.