Outrage at erection of Telkom tower next to complex in PE

A South End man, fuming over the planned construction of a cellphone tower close to his townhouse complex without any consultation with residents, used his car to try and block workers from off-loading materials yesterday.

South End resident Gregory McDonough with his car at the tower site. Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Gregory McDonough said he and other residents were angry over the construction because they were never properly informed about the plans, nor were they afforded the chance to raise objections against it.

The Telkom tower, which is set to be erected by today, will be situated only a few metres from the Koensprag townhouse complex’s entrance two. Once complete, the tower will stand between 16m and 18m tall.

“I first saw guys digging a hole at about 10am on Sunday morning when my wife, Emma, and our two kids were on our way to Baywest Mall,” McDonough said.

“Firstly, there was no public participation meeting to give residents a chance to voice their opinions.

“Also, what are the rules regarding how far these things need to be from a boundary wall? This thing is no further than two metres from the boundary wall.”

As the materials were being off-loaded from the truck, McDonough anxiously held his head as the nine-ton plinth and both parts of the tower hovered dangerously close to his Hyundai Tucson which he had parked in an attempt to block the workers.

Despite materials being delivered, no work was carried out on site yesterday. It could also not be confirmed whether construction would continue today.

McDonough said he had sent numerous e-mails to municipal officials including ward councillor Dean Biddulph.

“This is such a huge health risk for residents, because although it hasn’t been scientifically proven, it is said that living too close to a cellphone tower can cause cancer,” he said.

Koensprag resident and body corporate member Santhos Ioannides said houses usually went for between R1-million and R1.5-million in the complex.

“I think the value of the houses will certainly drop because of this, and not to mention what effects this could have on the health of some of our residents.”

Another resident, William van Tonder, said he was upset because the correct processes were not followed. “Is the public not supposed to be involved in a decision that could affect us? Does making money mean more than the health of the public?” A man who was contracted by Telkom to do the installation, but declined to give his name, said applications of this nature usually took up to a year to approve.

McDonough’s wife, Emma, said before moving to the complex eight years ago, they had looked at other properties but opted against them due to the fact there had been cellphone towers close by.

“We are renting here and we just recently used some of our own money to do some refurbishments to the house, only for this to happen.”

McDonough said he was now considering moving out of the complex to somewhere where he would not be as directly affected by the tower.

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki did not answer questions directly related to the incident.

He did, however, say: “Developments like these follow a process that includes consultation as one of the pillars.

“In this instance, the same must have happened. The municipality will conduct a thorough check of all the processes that have been followed, more especially consultations with the affected residents.”

Questions surrounding the tower were also sent to Telkom media relations specialist Leigh-Ann Francis.

At the time of going to print, Telkom had still not responded to those queries.

The Herald/Tiso Black Star Group

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