uMngeni takes Telkom to court after unlawfully erecting cell tower

uMngeni ward 2 councillor Janis Holmes stands by a Telkom cellphone tower on Amber Avenue which was allegedly unlawfully erected.
uMngeni ward 2 councillor Janis Holmes stands by a Telkom cellphone tower on Amber Avenue which was allegedly unlawfully erected.
Nhlanhla Nkosi

The uMngeni Municipality is planning to take Telkom to court for allegedly unlawfully erecting a cellphone tower on Amber Avenue in Howick.

The tower was erected on the residential street in mid-February, and Telkom had allegedly not made any residential planning applications.

The Western Cape High Court ruled earlier this year that Telkom had to get approval from a municipality before conducting projects. This after the City of Cape Town took the service provider to court.

In that case, Telkom had tried to set up a cellphone tower in the Heathfield area on a residential plot, and had begun construction before a rezoning application was fully processed.

General manager for town planning at uMngeni, Steve Simpson, told The Witness that Telkom did not have the prerequisite planning approval before erecting the tower and digging up parts of Amber Avenue’s pavement to lay cables.

“We served Telkom with a compliance notice where they can apply for planning retrospectively. But they did not do it within the time period we gave them to comply, so we will proceed with litigation in getting a court order to get them to comply,” he said.

Simpson explained that Telkom had violated regulations of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act.

Members of the community, and the area’s ward councillor, Janis Holmes, alleged Telkom had not held public participation meetings to assess the community’s feelings on the pole.

One community member who lives near the site said concerned residents had submitted a petition of more than 200 signatures to uMngeni after Telkom had began laying cables.

“We had no say in this. They never called a meeting. We have to wake up and look at this tower every morning. It’s so stressful because things are coming up in our neighbourhood and we have no control over it.”

Holmes said the area was known for poor network reception, but maintained that Telkom should not have erected the tower without proper consent.

“This has now become a divisive issue as residents feel their concerns are not being heard and are worried about the effects the tower will have on their property values and the health of their families.”

Telkom told The Witness it was in consultation with its consultants, Huawei, to understand the events that led up to the erection of the tower.

“Our intention is always to comply with the letter and intention of the regulation. If it is found that this did not occur in this instance, Telkom will do all that is necessary to ensure compliance,” it said in a statement.

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