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Let ecological justice reign

Eikestadnuus should be commended for sharing its concern about the possible proliferation of cellphone towers within greater Stellenbosch.

It is a matter of some concern that our self-styled “Innovation Capital” with close links to a “world class university” has not seen fit to initiate research about the framing of regulatory policy guidelines regarding the siting and operation of such towers and antennae.

Already in 2011 Prof Olle Johansson of the Karolinska Institutet, Helsinki, in a well documented letter to, among others, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and then Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela cited research findings about the possible harmful effects of prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

Prof Johanssen advises that, where there is still uncertainty, the “Precautionary Principle” approach should be adopted as a management guideline.

In the same year the Electromagnetic Radiation Research Foundation of South Africa wrote a 30-page critique of the City of Cape Town’s proposed telecommunications infrastructure draft policy.

This comprehensive response to the draft policy includes, among others, photographs of trees dying in close proximity to cellphone and telecom infrastructure.

It further cites Section 24 of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and poses proper public participation processes as a right of communities and individuals X not just to a “Greener Stellenbosch” but to a total natural environment that is not harmful to life.

Since then research material corroborating findings such as contained in the documentation mentioned above has multiplied almost exponentially.

Wi-Fi and other such technologies do not come free, albeit that the hidden costs will not be borne by the multinational entities that stand to benefit to the tune of billions.

However, if communities, especially disadvantaged, vulnerable groups are unwittingly going to be inveigled into helping to subsidise get-rich schemes by unscrupulous capitalist concerns, the community must stand up and claim its right to environmental justice.

Otto van Noie, IDA’S VALLEY See the Mayor’s response elsewhere in this issue.

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