By XOLA QETSEMANI
Marcell Erasmus lives in Colchester End, about 40m away from the tower.
The City has taken a Parklands church to task for letting Telkom put up an “unauthorised” cell mast on its property, just metres from a daycare and a primary school.
Residents are furious and say they weren’t notified about the mast, which went up at the Full Gospel Church, in Humewood Drive, the weekend before Easter.
Anne-marie Smith lives about 120m from the mast.
“We are in disbelief that this tower was put up. As far as we know, there are no building plans. And I went around to a lot of my neighbours, and no one knew about any plans to erect a cell tower. We are saying down with it. We are not interested. The tower is illegal,” said Ms Smith.
Peekaboo Daycare is across the street from the church and the owner, Louise Thatcher, said they had heard nothing about plans to put up the mast.
“We would have liked to be informed of this so that we can do our own research on the matter because we are aware that these cell masts are quite a contentious subject,” she said.
The junior campus of Big Bay Academy – a private, independent school – is on the church premises.
The owner, Justine Theron, said she did not know what deal the church had made in allowing the mast to go up and declined to comment further.
Tabletalk emailed the church on Wednesday May 2, asking, among other things, how much it stood to make from the cell-tower deal and whether it had publicised its plans.
When we called church pastor Linda Bekwa the next day, Thursday May 3, he said he was out of town. Later in the day he sent an email confirming receipt of our questions.
Tabletalk phoned Pastor Bekwa again on Monday May 7. He said he was still out of town and couldn’t comment before he had consulted with the church board.
The church did not respond to our questions before this edition went to print.
Marcell Erasmus, who lives in Colchester End, about 40m from the tower, said he had been unable to find plans at the Milnerton municipal office for the cell mast.
“I’m worried about the health implications that surround these towers,” he said.
“If it was 500m away, it would be a different story. But the issue is that it’s way too close to our homes, and we weren’t even informed about it.”
Transport and urban development Mayco member Brett Herron confirmed neither land-use nor building plan applications had been submitted for the cell mast.
“The City has served a notice on the owner of the land in terms of the National Building Regulations for the unauthorised structure,” he said.
Greater Table View Action Forum chairwoman, Karen Davis said it was vital for cell tower plans to go through a formal application process.
“Only then can the residents and all affected be given the opportunity to research and decide whether they would want this kind of structure up and emitting waves at them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months of the year.
“Young children especially should not be subjected to these emissions, low frequency or not.
“My opinion on the towers is a definite no, but moreover, the residents around there have not been given the choice and this is an even bigger no,” said Ms Davis.
Telkom sent Tabletalk a statement from an anonymous spokesperson saying it complied with international electromagnetic radiation standards and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The statement describes the mast at the church as a “15 metre lamp post tower”, and adds: “This means it is an extension of an existing lamp post, below 15m and is governed by different regulations.
“To this end, Telkom has complied with all applicable requirements as specified by local, regional and national regulations in terms of acquiring the requisite approvals and notifying affected parties in line with these specific guidelines.”
Cecelia Beirowski said only a street separated her home from the tower.
“We want the tower gone. If they had gone through the proper channels, it probably would have never been allowed by the residents. I am aware of the health issue concerns surrounding these towers, and I’m quite shocked that this project was allowed to continue without the participation of the residents,” she said.