Court battle against cell mast

* The sight of a cell mast, camouflaged by a chimney on the Alphen Estate, initiated irate residents to take further legal action to have it removed.

It’s been two weeks since Constantia residents won a Constitutional Court battle to have a “visually intrusive” cell mast removed, but it has still not been taken down.

The 5m-high mast remains tucked away, camouflaged by a chimney on the Alphen Estate. Residents say they plan to take further legal action to have it removed.

Stephen Marshall, one of the trustees of the Marshall Trust, said the trust would take further legal action against the Cape Town City council.

“Even though we won two court cases against MTN, the mast is still standing and the council appear to side with MTN at every opportunity. Hence the mast is still operating,” said Mr Marshall.

The Marshall Trust, made up of Constantia residents who
livenearthemast,sued MTNandAlphenFarm Estate after the mast went
up in 2013.

Residents claimed they had been misled by MTN. They said the company had asked them for permission to upgrade its 2G antenna to a 3G one in 2012 without telling them it did not have prior authorisation from the City of Cape Town.

The residents felt that MTN was attempting to act above the law as it had not applied for the necessary planning permission from the City.

The residents said they had not realised the mast would be so visually intrusive.

More than it being a concern for health for them, they were bothered by the legality of the mast.

According to other media reports, the seven-year-long legal battle cost the residents R2.5 million.

MTN was instructed to cover some of those costs after it lost the most recent battle in the Constitutional Court.

After the residents won their first case in the Western Cape high court in 2015, MTN took the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which overturned the High Court judgment.

The residents then approached the Constitutional Court which ruled in their favour at the end of April.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN SA, said the decommissioning of the site, the removal of the equipment and the rehabilitation would take about a month to complete.

“‘In the meantime, MTN has switched off the site and has complied with the decision of the Constitutional Court,” she said.

The Bulletin sent questions to the City of Cape Town on Monday, but it did not respond by the time this edition went to print.