Cape Town By-Law Amendments: the installation of minor freestanding cell masts

NB  Objections must be in by 1st of April 2019

 (See the “Objections’ pdf * by EMFSA towards the bottom of the page)

The COCT is well aware that the cell tower issue is a very problematic one for many communities and individuals. We fail to understand why it was lumped together with other proposed bylaw amendments and not discussed on its own. The time period given for comments is far too little and an extension should be granted.

  • The Municipal Planning By-law (MPBL) regulates developments and land use in Cape Town. The City is proposing a number of amendments to the by-law as part of its annual review process; and to give effect to the policies and strategies that have been adopted by the City Council over the past few years.
  • The intention of the proposed amendment is to allow for less bulky and less tall cell masts or towers to be constructed by cellular network and telecommunication providers. This type of infrastructure is intended to be usually attached to existing infrastructure, such as a lamp post or rooftop, and is less intrusive than conventional telecommunication masts.
  • Amendments are proposed to allow for the installation of minor freestanding cell masts: properties zoned as Community Use such as churches, schools, clinics and hospitals; Utilities; Transport 1 and Transport 2; Public Open Space; as well as Agriculture be allowed to install minor freestanding cell masts (of less than 12 m in height) or minor rooftop masts (of less than 1,5 m in height) as of right. This means that these minor freestanding masts and minor rooftop masts can be installed at or on these sites without prior land use approval from the City or adjacent land owners. Building plan approvals may still be required.
  • A minor rooftop cell mast of less than 1,5 m in height is allowed as a consent use for properties zoned as Single Residential 1 and Single Residential 2; as well as for properties zoned as General Residential 1 – 6. This means that the owner of the property must still apply to the City for permission to install this structure.
These new by-laws could have far-reaching consequences.

It is therefore important that as many interested parties as possible, from residents to rate payers’ associations and body corporates, submit their comments on the City’s proposed amendments by 1 April 2019, the City said.

The full set of proposed amendments and the guideline document with more information are available at the 24 subcouncil offices and on the City’s website at

The City is proposing an additional level to measure height. Height is a contentious issue on sites and in areas with steep slopes and most complaints relate to the impact of height on neighbouring views, privacy, and sunlight.

Alderman Nieuwoudt: “I want to remind residents who own property in Cape Town that some of the proposed amendments may have an impact on property rights, as well as on future developments and land uses. To put it simply, the amendments will have an impact on what our cities and suburbs will look like a few years on. Thus, all of us who live and work in Cape Town have an interest in the outcome of this process, regardless of whether you’re a property owner or not“.

Comments, input or recommendations in respect of the proposed amendments can be submitted by:

Presenting your comments:

If you would like to present your comments, you will need to register by emailing Zandile Mahlasela at

A copy of the presentation must be provided to Zandile Mahlasela or delivered to the Council Chamber before 30 March 2019.

Residents who registered will be given a 10 minute period to present comments on the proposed amendments at the hearing.

See details below:

Comments by EMFSA:
  1. The mere idea of removing the rights of citizens to object to cell masts (regardless of size) is unconstitutional.
  2. Cell tower radiation is a recognized environmental pollutant. Not only is the radiation from a cell tower classified as a Class 2 B Possible Human Carcinogen BUT it may act as a cancer promoter in combination with other pollutants. The City is blatantly ignoring the Precautionary Principle by encouraging the placement of towers at schools, hospitals, clinics and churches. Cancer is not our only concern. If this by-law is accepted the City is risking the health of already sick people, and most of all the most precious in our society, our children.
  3. With the proposed roll-out of 5G the total environmental EMF exposure will increase, new modulation types will be deployed, the combination of which has not been tested. In other words, one giant experiment.
  4. The City has no model in place to accompany the roll out of 5G with independent radiation and health monitoring but wants to add more masts with the possibility of citizens having no say? This is certainly not what a democratic society is about.
  5. How many more law suits will have to be fought – already the taxpayer has had to fork out a small fortune on behalf of the COCT. Our advice to the DA: listen to your voters. Many low income  communities do NOT have the income to fight a tower in court.  Is this apartheid in reverse?
  6.  As to  “Building plan approvals may still be required” – as in approving it as “minor building works” ?  To approve a cell tower application at a school under this pretense can be perceived as child abuse. Do we need a reminder of what our Constitution say about the Rights of a Child?
  7. The COCT states:  “to give effect to the policies and strategies that have been adopted by the City Council over the past few years“. So in effect what the city is saying is that tower placements have already been approved without the necessary public participation and consent. The numerous ongoing law suits testify to that.
  8. Re “This type of infrastructure is intended to be usually attached to existing infrastructure, such as a lamp post or rooftop”. (In other words ‘small cells’ attached to lampposts or ‘security poles).
*Objections – see pdf link below
The Role of Cell tower Radiation as an Environmental Pollutant and the need to apply the Precautionary and ALARA Principles.

The_Role_of_Cell_tower_Radiation_as_an_Environment (1)

 City of Cape Town Municipal Planning Amendment By-Laws 2019 – Comments by EMFSA




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