Umbilo residents take legal action against MTN cell masts

UMBILO residents affected by what they believe is radiation from an MTN cell mast in Rick Turner Road, have taken legal action and are waiting on an advocate to serve an interdict to have the mast pulled down.

Resident Niki Moore said the mast hadn’t been operating recently after the power box had exploded for the fourth time. Since it had been out of operation, she said residents had noticed a difference in how they were feeling.

“I’m feeling marvelous! My pain has gone, although I do have lingering stiffness. I have been able to move back into my house after sleeping in my car for a while,” she said.

Moore and other residents decided in July to pursue the legality of the mast, as well as others across the Glenwood area. She said through mapping the masts, they had identified 10 in a 1km radius in Glenwood.

“So far we have received a letter from eThekwini Municipality stating it is aware of the irregularities regarding the erection of these masts and are investigating. They have apparently stopped MTN from erecting all new masts and working on older masts,” she said.

Moore said she and DA councillor Chris Pappas had received a copy of the lease for the mast in Tara Road on the Bluff, which had raised red flags.

READ RELATED: Residents seek legal advice on cellphone tower saga

“The site plan doesn’t even represent where the mast actually is, which is in the centre of a children’s park, instead of on a street corner as noted in the lease. The project goes against the requirements of the Spacial Development and Land Use Management Act which city planning has to abide by, and a report to council’s Security and Emergency Services Committee on 10 August was withdrawn, as the deputy mayor said there were too many anomalies, which shows people in council are aware that something’s wrong,” she said.

She said according to the Central Zoning Scheme and Act, MTN was required to apply for special consent from the municipality and the process included placing an advert in a newspaper and community input.

“The Planning Department gives special consent, however Land Use Management has never received this application. There needs to be public participation and location provisions, a requirement by the Health Department, as well as a certificate by an engineer, but none of this was done. There should’ve been full compliance with standards, environmental issues, and taking into account people around the site,” said Moore.

READ RELATED: DA lodges PAIA application for city’s MTN deal

She said the lease was riddled with things MTN hadn’t done. She noted the fact the site plan showed the wrong direction, and the short-term tenancy termination date specified in the lease was not done. “MTN is paying R5000 per mast to the City,” she said, adding that according to the lease agreement, a mast could only be erected on the spot where a CCTV was reserved, but the masts had been put up ‘all over the place’. “Also, the mast can not be shared with a camera,” she said.

“The tenant is responsible for applying for consent and compliance and must remedy any nuisance related to the masts, but this hasn’t been done. I don’t understand why the municipality has not acted against this yet. It hasn’t gone through any council committee. We are now waiting for the interdict and hope this problem can be solved once and for all,” she said.


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Lauren Walford

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