Durban – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Thursday called on the police to conduct a thorough investigation following the destruction of newly installed 5G network towers in three Durban townships.
Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams described the incident as “an act of anarchy”, and also called on the police to arrest the perpetrators.
They were reacting after people went on the rampage, vandalising and setting fire to cellphone towers that were recently installed in uMlazi, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma.
The sabotage comes a day after ANC ward 24 councillor Sfiso Mngadi was hauled over the coals by eThekwini council speaker Weziwe Thusi following remarks he made against the installation of 5G towers. He had blamed them for spreading Covid-19.
Zikalala said the arsonists’ acts were reportedly based on a conspiracy theory around the coronavirus, as well as an alleged lack of community consultation prior to their installation.
“We condemn in the strongest terms threats and attacks on telecommunication infrastructure in any part of KwaZulu-Natal. We will not tolerate arson attacks and vandalism against infrastructure, regardless of whether it belongs to the government or the private sector. We cannot allow lawlessness to be used to resolve differences, regardless of whether the community grievances are genuine or not,” he said.
“We furthermore call on the SAPS to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book as soon as possible.
“Based on that report, we will engage all relevant parties to ensure that development by the private and public sector is delivered through honest consultation so that it benefits and brings communities together, and does not become a source of violence and division,” Zikalala said.
EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda called for calm and reiterated that there was no scientific evidence to link the 5G network to the second wave of Covid-19.
“I want to appeal to the conscience of our people that they should not allow themselves to be mobilised to be part of an agenda that seeks to cause disruption at a time when our country is facing a difficult period of battling the deadly coronavirus pandemic.”
Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad called on private security personnel who were guarding the infrastructure to immediately report any acts of vandalism of infrastructure.
“I have heard that there is a certain group responsible for setting fire to the towers in uMlazi, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma,” Sewpersad said.
SAPS spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said a case of malicious damage to infrastructure was being investigated.
Meanwhile, Thusi said she would report today to the mayor and chief whips on her recommendation following her meeting with Mngadi.
The Mercury understands that the speaker will recommend the matter be referred to the ethics committee for a decision. The ANC on Thursday lambasted Mngadi for his remarks.
In a voice note that went viral on social media, Mngadi had claimed the 5G towers were responsible for emitting electro-magnetic fields that were spreading the deadly second wave of Covid-19.
ANC spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the provincial secretary had yet to meet with Mngadi to reprimand him. He added that the party supported the installation of 5G towers as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said her department was finalising a draft policy for the rollout of 5G networks. The process was expected to be subjected to public consultation as required by the Electronic Communications Act, she said.
- 5G network towers vandalised, set alight in Durban townships [https://www.iol.co.za/mercury/news/5g-network-towers-vandalised-set-alight-in-durban-townships-c3caed83-61c7-4535-8637-e95910b45bad]