Mobile telecommunications infrastructure belonging to MTN and Vodacom has been torched and destroyed in KwaZulu-Natal, possibly as the result of conspiracy theories linking 5G roll-out to the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19.
This is according to communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who said in a statement on Thursday that three towers belonging to the mobile operators were destroyed on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. She did not say where they were located. (TechCentral has reached out to MTN and Vodacom for comment.)
The minister urged the police to arrest those responsible for what she described as “anarchy” and said the destruction of the towers “follows a resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic to 5G”.
The torching of the towers comes after an eThekwini (Durban) councillor, Sifiso Mngadi, reportedly shared a voice note with colleagues over Christmas linking 5G networks to the spread of Covid-19. Mngadi was slammed by the ANC and opposition political parties for the remarks and is now facing disciplinary measures.
Ndabeni-Abrahams on Thursday said linking 5G to Covid-19 formed part of a “misinformation campaign” that posed a “threat to investments” made by telecoms operators.
“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.
“The destruction of network towers compromises multipronged efforts and initiatives to stem the spread of the virus. We therefore urge the police to arrest anyone who is threatening or removing infrastructure network stations or towers.”
South Africa isn’t the only country that has had network infrastructure targeted over the false belief that there is a link between 5G and Covid-19. Scores of telecoms towers were attacked in the UK last year, apparently by people who believed such links existed. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media
- This is a developing story