Residents of Forest Glade, in Eerste River, have protested against the erection of a cellphone tower – which they say is a health hazard – on the grounds of the Perm Gardens Baptist Church, within close proximity to their homes.
Protesters are unhappy about the church entering into an agreement with American Tower South Africa (ATC) without consulting them first.
“I know some members of the community are unhappy, but it is only a few. I tried to cancel this contract, but the people from ATC said they will sue me, because I already signed the agreement. There is nothing I can do now because I cannot afford to take these people on,” Pastor George Schuller said on Sunday morning.
An upset Sculler added: “These residents are rude. Look at them playing their loud music while we are having a service. They even screamed at our Sunday schoolchildren that we are bringing cancer here, but there are towers all over. It is disrespectful.”
“The church needed the money and everyone uses cellphones.”
Residents fear the potential dangers associated with radiation.
Community activist Gavin Davis says: “There is a huge risk of cancer, it exacerbates autism and attention deficit disorder.”
“Even the people who erected the towers told me they cannot guarantee that it won’t affect our health.”
Davis says Schuller has gone back on his word.
“We had a meeting where we explained in detail, accompanied by research, to the pastor why we felt so strongly about this issue. He then agreed to stand with us. He told us his concerns about potentially being sued, to which we agreed to support him should anything happen.”
“He then turned around and permitted construction to continue. When we confronted him, he said that he does not trust us to support him should things go further.”
Residents have been fighting to stop the tower’s completion for the past three years, engaging with the City of Cape Town and ATC.
But Mayor Patricia de Lille declined their appeal and ATC have not responded to them.
Davis says: “The City’s health and safety standards are based on outdated information, gathered in 2002. It is 2017, how can those guidelines stay the same? Why don’t they erect these towers on mountains and on the outskirts of residential areas?”