Mast tower victory for Heathfield

2019-10-08 06:01
A two-year court battle followed on the erection of a cellphone mast on Fourth Road, Heathfield. PHOTO: RACINE EDWARDES

A two-year court battle followed on the erection of a cellphone mast on Fourth Road, Heathfield. PHOTO: RACINE EDWARDES

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For more than two years, Heathfield residents, together with the City of Cape Town, have battled network providers on the erection of cellphone masts (cellphone towers).

A final judgment has been made in favour of the City.

“The decision has been two years in the making – and it all started with the erection of the tower without formal consultation and application. Even I, as the councillor, was shocked to see the tower here,” said Kevin Southgate, councillor for ward 72, pointing to the cellphone mast on Fourth Road.

According to a City of Cape Town statement, Telkom installed a cellphone mast in Heathfield in 2017 without approval from the City, breaching the Municipal Planning Bylaw.

Telkom challenged the bylaw in the Western Cape High Court.

“At the time, Telkom planned to install 135 masts across Cape Town, and went ahead and installed seven masts without obtaining the City’s approval,” the statement read.

The City opposed Telkom’s application in the court, as well as its appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

“Telkom argued that they were free to install cellphone towers wherever they deem fit, irrespective whether the land is zoned for that use or not,” mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt, said in a statement to the media last week.

On Wednesday 25 September, a judgment was delivered in favour of the City.

“The judgment concurs with the order from the Western Cape High Court last year that Telkom is bound by the municipal planning by-law like all other developers and landowners in Cape Town,” said Nieuwoudt.

Southgate said residents took it upon themselves to drive this matter.

“And now the SCA has rejected the service provider’s appeal,” he said.

Kashiefah Wentzel is one of the residents who played an active role in opposing the erection of the tower in Fourth Road, as well as the one at Southfield train station in 2015.

“If anything happens in the community there is a due process which allows residents to voice our opinions,” she said, adding that both masts were erected unlawfully and without the support of the community.

Their concerns were primarily focused on the health impacts the masts could have on residents and the environment.

Wentzel said: “I voiced my opposing opinions because there is proof that these towers emit radiation.”

Another resident, Gavin Joe, added: “Also we’ve got the vlei right here, so it can impact the ecosystem.” 

“Telkom has noted the judgment and is busy reviewing to consider our options going forward. 

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