Heathfield residents are calling on the City of Cape Town to demolish a free-standing telecommunication base in one of the residents’ yard in Fourth Street.
The base station is part of a single panel antenna mounted on a 15m high mast and a freight container.
The residents are claiming that they were not informed about it and there was no public participation.
The worst of their fears are the health implications that come with such a mast in a residential area. They say the microwaves from the cell phone tower can lead to health problems like headaches, memory loss, cardiovascular stress, low sperm count, birth defects and cancer, to mention just a few.
They say before their health starts to deteriorate, their request to the City is simple: “Take it down”.
The mast has been standing in the yard for close to three months despite the fact that no due processes where followed, residents say.
It is alleged that when the residents started questioning the legalities of the mast, the telecommuncation company which installed it suddenly started advertising it and sending residents information about it to get the public to participate.
According to the application, more that 50 houses close to where the mast will be, were notified about it, but residents say none of them were told about it. In the application to the City it states that the closing date for objections, comments and representation is Monday 13 June.
Residents are saying it’s a little too late for the City to do what was supposed to be done before the mast was erected, and now they want it demolished.
Resident Deon de Wet says he was surprised one day when he came home from work to see the mast.
“The morning I went to work, there was nothing. When I came back, the mast was there. It was a quick job – done within just hours. Since then we have been complaining about this because we have the elderly as well as children around here, and this will affect their health. What upsets us even more is the fact that none of us were ever informed about this. How did the City let this happen? No proper procedures were followed,” he says.
Another resident, Jan Burger, says they can’t allow this monstrosity to continue. “These masts are mushrooming in our area and we can’t allow this to continue to happen. There is no openness when the City does things. They always say they are an inclusive City and a City that works for us, but how did they allow this to happen?
No consultation“This is not legal; people were not given a chance to air their views. Now that we are complaining they are suddenly sending letters and saying if we have objections we must send them through.
“For what? They have already sealed the deal and the mast has been here for months. We are sick and tired of how the City deals with issues. This is a democracy and we must be included. We are sick and tired of being dumped at the bottom when the city does things.”
Glorya Alfreds, secretary of the Princess Vlei Civic Association, says they want the mast demolished.
“We want it taken down completely. It’s bad for health. We don’t want it here. We didn’t get any notification on it, and when we followed it up, we were told it was illegal and the owners will have 60 days to take it down or be fined.
“We don’t want them to be fined because if they are fined, it means they can leave it there,” she says.
“We don’t want that; we want it to go. These are the outcomes of dirty money – people are not properly consulted because somewhere, somehow, there are people benefitting from it while others suffer,” she says.
Residents are signing a petition in objection to the mast and raising their concerns on how flawed the whole process was.
Johan van der Merwe, Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning confirmed that they are aware of the mast and it is unauthorised.
“A land use application for this freestanding base telecommunication station has been submitted and is currently being advertised. The application was received on Friday 22 January this year. The application is currently undergoing a public participation process.
“A notice regarding the unauthorised construction has been served. The City cannot immediately order the demolition of the mast; we are obliged to go through a lengthy legal process.”
Van der Merwe adds that since the mast was erected without due processes being followed, the mast could potentially be required to be demolished.
Alternatively, an administrative penalty could be imposed.
The City of Cape Town couldn’t determine whether the mast is currently operational or not.