A base station has been erected on Matroosberg, the Western Cape’s second-highest mountain, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The report stated that the structure is made from concrete, will hold an 8-metre mast, and that authorities have no definitive answer as to how it got there. CapeNature officials, who are responsible for the peak, said they do not know who commissioned the tower – and said the party did not seek permission.
“CapeNature is in the process of conducting an in-field investigation into alleged trespassing on CapeNature-managed land as well as the illegal construction,” it said.
It told the Sunday Times that a “Western Cape Internet service provider allegedly gained illegal access” to the area. It then “transported equipment and building material to the top of the mountain and seemingly bulldozed a new piece of road as well”.
The report stated that sources identified a bakkie bearing the name of a local ISP which was seen transporting workers to the top of the mountain recently. The province’s environmental affairs department has said the base station was “technically legal”, however. This is because it “was just small enough not to trigger provisions of the National Environmental Management Act”.
The news comes three months after residents of Constantia in Cape Town won a legal battle against MTN to have a “visually intrusive” cellphone mast taken down. The seven-year legal battle cost the residents R2.5 million and was centred around a 5-metre cellphone mast “disguised as a chimney”
In 2017, a similar battle took place in Johannesburg, with residents fighting against the erection of cellphone towers and “4G street poles” which were installed without their approval.
Residents in Craighall Park fought the installation of a 30m cellphone tower on the property of the Old Apostolic Church.
While pockets of residents fight tower installations, network operators continue to roll out new towers to ensure their customers remain connected.
Thanks to no spectrum being allocated by ICASA and the government in recent years, mobile operators in particular are forced to continue adding more towers as users consume more data.
Tower roll-outs will also intensify as 5G connectivity is implemented by the networks , for example, Helios Towers aims to build 1,000 telecommunication towers in South Africa in the next three years as a result.