Tackling cell masts

2016-09-06 10:38
Various community members came together to find a solution on how they can fight the issue of masts that are being erected without proper public participation and they are calling for a change of policy.

Various community members came together to find a solution on how they can fight the issue of masts that are being erected without proper public participation and they are calling for a change of policy. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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Community members from all over Cape Town gathered together to mobilise in a united manner on the issue of public participation and matters surrounding the cellphone tower masts at a meeting that was organised by Earthlife Africa Cape Town in Heathfield on Saturday.

Over the couple of months the erecting of masts has been met with a huge outcry and residents saying they were not involved in the public participation process and they are also concerned about the health risks that come with masts that are being put too close to their houses.

Muna Lakhani from Earthlife says individual battles are difficult and that’s why they have decided to come together.

“When you fight the issue about the mast alone you will never win. That’s why we have decided to call on everyone who is affected to join forces and fight. The main is issue is poor public participation, too many masts and we want a change in policy when it comes to how the masts are put up and how every process is followed. I have been approached on a regular basis by communities who want me to help them tackle this process and today (Saturday) is the beginning of a very long battle that is ahead of us on how we can deal with these issues,” he says.

With cell masts going up “everywhere” Lakhani says there is a “generic problem” throughout the City of Cape Town and they have to deal with it. “There is a huge different between public participation and consultation. There are health concerns around masts that are being put up to close to people’s houses. If something is questionable on safety and health it has to be looked into carefully. There is no question that there are health effects from these towers. We are electrical beings and we are worried about cellphone towers that are being put up anyhow. We have to fight for the old, our children, the vulnerable who can’t challenge this on their own,” adds Lakhani.

For some time people have been trying to tackle the issues of the mast when they see one but with no success.

A mother of two Amanda Collins says she fought back and forth even before the mast was put up right in from of her house.

“As they were erecting the structure I begun to fight with them. I have an autistic daughter. Having a mast right on my door step got me worried. It is on my lap. I felt trapped. I questioned everything but it was put up anyway. I felt so alone. Since then I have been very sick and I can’t sleep at all. I have to fight for my daughter and other people as well who don’t know how to challenge these things,” she says.

Most of the people who have questioned these masts being put up say they have been told they have so much radiation inside their houses they should not complain about a mast.

“We are told of our microwaves and cellphones. This is not the issue. We don’t use our microwaves all the time. To have radiation in the house is a choice but we didn’t choose to have masts right in front of our houses. You can’t switch (the mast) off and you can’t choose when to use it. That is worrying,” adds Collins.

Another resident Desmond Demas says they were not informed of anything.

“I will exaggerate and say one day they will find me with my saw on those masts because they are just too much. I will be arrested for damage of property on the spot but how come the City of Cape Town is failing to arrest those who put these masts illegally. Most of them are put up at night, you wake up you see a mast and it becomes a battle to bring it down. That has to stop and we are glad that this meeting will help us,” he says.

Those who attended the meeting concluded by saying they will be working together as a group to see how they can put a stop to the masts “that are mushrooming everywhere”.

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