Several cellphone towers have been torched recently, something which has now been linked to the spread of false information related to COVID-19 and 5G.
This week alone, three telecommunications network infrastructure towers belonging to telecom providers Vodacom and MTN were set alight in Durban. Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has widely condemned this and described the spread of such fake COVID-19-related information as being a threat to infrastructure investments, particularly in the digital sector.
“It is regrettable that the much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country 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,” she said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in the beginning of 2020, so did a flurry of bogus stories and claims surrounding its origin. One of the theories which have been doing the rounds is that 5G mobile phone signals are transmitting the virus.
5G is the new high-speed data network that promises very high download speeds and comes at a critical time for the digital age. Ndabeni-Abrahams highlighted this, in light of the latest incidents of vandalism and has called on law enforcement to bring to book those responsible
“The burning of the cellphone towers follows a resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic to 5G mobile technology. The destruction of network towers compromises multipronged efforts and initiatives to stem the spread of the virus,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
“We urge the police to arrest anyone who is threatening to remove infrastructure network stations or towers,” she said.
While the claims on this have been disproven over and over again, some people are still convinced otherwise – going as far as setting cellphone towers on fire. “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies,” the World Health Organisation has said.
An ANC councillor in KwaZulu-Natal found himself in hot water when he blamed the new 5G network for the second wave of COVID-19 infections and called for the immediate removal of its towers. The party has moved to summon the councillor and call him to order for spreading misinformation.