This is not the tower of Babel but a cell-phone tower on the premises of a church in Eerste River that is causing a big stir – and outrage amongst the community.
Unsatisfied residents of the neighbourhood Forest Glade say that the City of Cape Town asked them via mail two years ago whether they had any objections with regards to the erection of a cell-tower.
The tower was intended to be on the premises of the Perm Gardens Baptist Church in Cabral Street. Eddie Alexander (58) has been living in Cabral Street for the last twenty-six years and says that they did hand in their objections.
“For two long years we never heard anything more about this story…until one day I opened my door and looked at this ugly monstrosity of a tower.’
He said the tower is merely 50m from the nearest homes of residents. [Aside: According to Dr Gavin Davis, the mast is actually 10m from his home]
Alexander said that they have been trying to get answers.
“What the City basically told us is that the people need cell-phone signals…..,this is why the tower is there whether we want it or not.”
Earlier in the week things boiled over when American Tower Corporation South Africa (ATC), which is responsible for the cell-phone tower, hired security guards to keep the elderly residents under control.
“We, who have been faithful rate-payers are now treated like criminals” says Alexander about this matter.
“But we are not looking for that thing here. Why are these towers being erected only in brown areas and not in rich people’s back-yards?”
“These people think nothing of us”, says Alexander.
Another resident, Auntie Katie Blaauw, says “we are old people but these security guards still have dogs with them.”
“The security guards sat all-night to ensure that we did not get close to the tower.”
The unhappiness over the tower is going to make a turn in court where George Schuller, pastor of the Perm Gardens Church, has laid an interdict against a resident Dr.Gavin Davis for ratification.
Schuller maintains that Davis intimidated him and his congregation. The case will be heard in the Blue Downs Court on Thursday.
About this Davis says “I can’t talk about the case, but according to legal advice that I have gathered, Schuller and his case do not stand a chance.”
“Schuller promised us in writing that he would terminate his contract with ATC but when I suddenly opened up my door one morning I was faced with this ugly thing.”
“I conducted a survey. There are already seventeen towers in Eerste River.”
“ATC target brown communities, particularly churches and schools.”
“Why?. Why must we be satisfied with these towers when people worldwide are opposed to them?”
“Why can’t we, like everybody else, make use of fibre-optic cables?”
The residents say that if ATC and the City of Cape Town think that they are just going to throw in the towel, they are very wrong.
“This is our street where we have lived happily for decades. Neither ATC or the City of Cape Town can just do whatever they like with us.” said a determined resident.
CONTRACT BINDS THE CHURCH FOR FIVE YEARS
If he knew that the cell-phone tower would cause so much unhappiness, he would never have sealed the deal with American Tower Corporation (ATC).
So explains Pastor George Schuller, the shepherd of the Perm Gardens Baptist Church flock in Eerste River.
Schuller says “I didn’t sign the contract; I didn’t erect the tower.”
“The City attached a notification to the gates of my church, but nobody complained then.”
The notification was to inform residents of the intention to erect a cell-tower in the area.
“If I could, I would cancel the contract, but ATC has warned that they will take me to court if I do this – we have no funds for a court case.”
“But the residents are rude. They swear at the congregation when they come to church and play very loud music before and during the service.”
Schuller says that the church will earn R5000.00 per month from the five year contract with ATC.
Schuller says: “In five years’ time we can decide whether we want to renew the contract, but who knows, maybe the church’s finances look good and we won’t need their money.”
Two workers from ATC that die Son spoke to on Sunday, referred the article to their head office in Johannesburg.
By the time of going to press, neither ATC ‘s Human Resources nor Health and Safety Departments had responded to queries from Die Son, Sunday. That goes for the City as well.
The City of Cape Town has been asked to advise precisely how many towers in so-called brown areas, compared to posh areas, have been approved.