We frequently receive requests for assistance from individuals and groups in other areas of Cape Town and South Africa. Here are some general pointers:
First and foremost, although this can be an emotionally upsetting event taking communities by surprise, try to engage respectfully with Council, landowners and the telecom providers concerned so that you can be as informed as possible about the proposed installation.
1. Engaging with the Landowner
The landowner is a neighbour who may not be aware of the concerns you have. Try chat to them about the proposed installation to find out more about it. Unfortunately this avenue is often blocked (as it was for us, despite efforts by several neighbours to talk to the landowners on the phone.) Here is a copy of the final letter to them which was signed by 20 neighbours and hand-delivered on the day of the protest: Letter to Landowner
2. Engaging with Council
If you received documentation from Council alerting you to the installation, use the contact details provided there.
Here is information provided by Council on how to write an objection: Objection Template
And here is additional advice provided by Earthlife Africa: Earthlife Africa – Draft Objection Template 2016
You could also contact your local Ward Councillor to learn more and find out the best contacts for your area. The Councillors for Cape Town are available online.
Request a copy of the local policy which may also be online. Here is the policy for Cape Town: 2015 Telecommunication Mast Infrastructure Policy.
3. Engaging with the cellphone operators
Try to find out more details about the proposed installation from the service provider (eg. Vodacom / MTN / Cell C).
Be aware though that the height of the installation and the number of antennae discussed upfront may change due to co-location with other service providers once the base station is operational.
Request that they engage with the community. In our experience Vodacom were more open to engaging with the community than MTN.
4. Alert your neighbours
Many of your neighbours may be unaware of the proposed installation. Alert them too. The more you can share information and pool resources the better as this reduces the impact on what can potentially be a stressful experience for you. Create a fact sheet about the proposed installation and a call to action with wording you’re comfortable with based on the particulars of the installation.
Educate yourself & those around you about the potential effects of electromagnetic radiation not only on ourselves & future generations but also the environmental impact to our planet. On property values. If you have health and environmental concerns, in what way could you reduce your own EMR footprint?
The more researched you are the better as you are likely to receive a lot of criticism for speaking out on this topic. This education is an ongoing process and here are some of our online resources to help you:
A simple overview of our community’s primary concerns, with proposed solutions and contacts.
A website created in 2007 with focus on health & environmental studies, documents & documentaries. This is a collation of documentation we’ve received from scientists and concerned individuals, groups and organisations in South Africa and world-wide.
Facebook page, updated more regularly than the websites.
Consider the following legal activism:
- Create a petition, bearing in mind that people will be signing for different reasons from health & environmental concerns to property values and public participation rights. Include date, name, street address, phone number, email and optional comment. more
- Write letters to the press. Some of ours can be found here.
- Stage a peaceful protest, legal protest with necessary permission from Council and traffic department. Invite the media. Here is a press release about our 2014 protest: Press Release – Nov 2014.
- Connect with other mast opposition groups in your city. Unity is strength.
- Create a more widespread petition with footage.
7. Seek legal advice
A few neighbours in our area sought legal advice from the legal firm Francis Thompson and Aspden Attorneys, based in Cape Town (021 424 0480).
In June 2015, Judge Owen Rogers ruled in their favour and the judgement can be read here: High Court Judgement
A press summary can be viewed here and the matter is now under Appeal: Residents celebrate cellmast victory
Be persistent and prepared for the long haul if necessary. Remember the saying – “Aanhouer wen!”