Mystery surrounds Durban approval for MTN towers
City officials conceal truth as purpose-built cell masts erected under the guise of 'fighting crime' are fitted with antennae instead of CCTV cameras, writes Niki Moore
The eThekwini municipality is facing a court challenge over the legality of cell masts and a cellular tower erected in Durban without permission. MTN is building new infrastructure across SA to catch up with its rival Vodacom. It began its national expansion in Johannesburg in 2014 where, in terms of a "municipal infrastructure arrangement" with City Power, antennae were erected on streetlight poles to create purpose-built masts with minimal effect on the environment. The City of Johannesburg wanted to increase income by commercialising municipal infrastructure and the agreement with MTN followed the issuing of a tender. In 2016, MTN concluded a similar agreement in Durban with the head of the disaster management department, Vincent Ngubane, apparently in his personal capacity. MTN insists that the deal is legal and above board, but could not produce any evidence of a process or contract. The existence of this "arrangement" emerged after residents in several upmarket Durban suburbs ...