Communications and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has condemned the burning and destruction of cellphone network tower infrastructure and urged the South African Police to arrest those responsible.
The burning of the cellphone towers follows a resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic to 5G, the minister said.
So far three telecommunications network infrastructure towers belonging to Vodacom and MTN were burnt and destroyed between Tuesday and Wednesday this week in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ndabeni-Abrahams has described the misinformation campaign as a threat to investments and telecoms network infrastructure.
“It is regrettable that the much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country currently needs resilient and high-speed connectivity for every citizen to enable them to participate meaningfully in the digital economy. Furthermore, mobile telephony is crucial in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“The destruction of network towers compromises multi-pronged efforts and initiatives to stem the spread of the virus. We therefore urge the police to arrest anyone who is threatening of removing infrastructure network stations or towers,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic there have been several social media campaigns linking 5G network to the outbreak of the virus. The World Health Organisation has, however, dispelled such myths.
In their recent statement on this matter the WHO said: “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.”
The WHO statement on the matter was also echoed by South Africa’s Department of Health, which also described such assertions as unfounded.
“We also need to remind South Africans that spreading fake news or disinformation about Covid-19 is a punishable offence. Those involved in the destruction of infrastructure are not only breaking the law, but also violate people’s right to access information,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.