The untimely death last week of Muna Lakhani came as a shock to many, including those of us aided by him in battles against illegally and irregularly erected cell masts in our communities. Muna left an impressive legacy in his fight for environmental justice in a number of areas, including (amongst other things) fracking, the government’s costly nuclear deal, mining and waste (here is a recent letter of his published in the Mail & Guardian this month). While at the same time promoting renewable energy and other more sustainable solutions for South Africa.
What we remember him for mostly though is the particularly significant role he played in raising awareness of regulatory issues relating to EMR over-exposure where authorities are turning a blind eye to the mounting evidence demonstrating health and environmental problems. In recent years he gave tremendous support to us at EMRSA and through our connections aided numerous communities in Cape Town and further afield.
Our association with Muna began in June 2016 and following initial communications he helped to organise a joint meeting for representatives from communities around Cape Town who were concerned about the way in which cell masts were rolling out apace in their neighbourhoods without consultation with immediately affected neighbours and without their consent.
Here are details of that first unification meeting in Sep 2016 which was well attended by community representatives, concerned citizens and the media:
Constantiaberg Bulletin: Call to curb cell masts
People’s Post: Tackling cellmasts
Southern Mail: Residents share gripes on cell masts
Following the meeting, Muna produced a draft objection template to aid communities wanting to object to Council – initially created for the vocal Heathfield, Plumstead and Noordhoek opposition groups and subsequently numerous others:
In the following years he continued to willingly aid battling communities wherever he could, generously sharing his research and experience when asked as far as he was able. As he observed though to a journalist a few months ago, “We simply cannot cope with the number of communities that have come for help to resist these cell towers”. Asked why there has been a surge in the number of these cell towers in recent years, Mr Lakhani said it could be because of digital TV migration…. We will over time see further strain on our healthcare resources and children in particular will find school even more problematic….” Mr Lakhani encouraged residents to get involved and object when there are plans to erect cell towers in their communities. more here
Most recently, he shared our concern with the latest City bylaws, commenting to the press that “changes to the cell-mast laws were being rushed through – without adequate public participation – to allow industry to install 5G everywhere and immediately.” more here
We are extremely grateful to Muna for the tremendous efforts given selflessly without reward or financial gain for himself, motivated by informed and genuine concern for the poorest communities in particular. And we hope that his legacy will continue to bear fruit in this area for many years to come. It’s greatly needed and his loss felt acutely.
Tribute contributed by J Hansen, 27 May 2019
Postscript: Here’s an extract from a tribute posted on Beyond Nuclear‘s site and certainly what Muna wrote about his friend Thabang Ngozela applied to him too:
Addison’s Disease took Muna away. He left virtually moments after lamenting the passing of another South African activist and friend, mourned by many. On May 18 at 7pm he wrote on Facebook: “sorry…no funnies this week…am still broken over the news of the passing on of my dear brother, fellow comrade and warrior in arms, Thabang Ngozela>>>super special person…always with the people…. doing the work…sharing. loving and supporting…Hamba Kahle, Q’Ban’wam…”