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The government has been put under intense pressure to assure South Africans that the roll-out of 5G will not pose health risks, such as increased cancer cases.

Civil protests have erupted in many countries across the world against the fifth generation cellular network technology, as doctors and scientists have warned that it would substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).

“RF-EMF has been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment,” said a 2017 memorandum signed by 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries. They recommended a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G.

“Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans.

The memorandum served as a springboard for anti-5G protests in countries including Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Uruguay and the US.

In South Africa, the roll-out began earlier this year without any opposition.

But an MP has started asking the government questions about the safety of the technology.

The IFP’s Nsikayezwe Cebekhulu asked Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, if she was informed of the potential risk 5G posed to humans.

Mapisa-Nqakula said her office was aware of risks associated with 5G, but the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services did due diligence on the roll-out of the technology.

“The department of defence is aware of the identified dangers and risks pertaining to the 5G technology roll-out,” said Mapisa-Nqakula, replying to written questions in Parliament.

“It is the department of defence’s policy to invest only on tested and matured technologies that are safe in accordance to international best practices.”

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy took questions about how the government planned to protect the country’s ecosystem against the frequencies emitted by 5G.