Parents oppose cell mast

Friend of God Church in Goodwood is causing a major upset in the community over a cell mast that is being built on the site.

The building of a cell mast on the grounds of a Goodwood church has angered the parents of children at a preschool there who say they weren’t consulted about it.

Neilan Adams has a daughter and niece at Mismo Educare, at the Friend of God Church, in Vasco Boulevard. He says parents are upset that the church “immorally allowed” a cell tower to be built on its grounds. 

“Parents were not informed that a cell mast would be erected on the grounds. The City, when requested by residents to block towers being erected because of health reasons, cites a flawed guideline from the World Health Organisation (WHO) drafted by The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). This NGO seems to want to shield the cellphone industry from scrutiny than uphold its mandate to guard against dangerous exposure,” he said. 

The Northern News ran a story last year about the plans to put up the 25m-high mast at the church after an application to rezone the 98m2 plot was advertised (“Cell mast plan for church,” Wednesday April 5 2018, Northern News).

Parents had not been consulted about the mast and most, until recently, had not even known it was being built, Mr Adams said.

“Neither the church nor the daycare held any meetings with parents, hence the difficulty in rallying parents or making them aware of developments.”

Mr Adams’s sister, Shanee Adams, has one child at the daycare and even though she is upset about the cell mast she “absolutely loves the school”.

Ms Adams said the church should have notified parents about the mast.

“If that was the case, I would not have placed my daughter at the school. There are so many dangers about the proximity of cellphone masts in relation to where people work and live, and now to erect a tower there without letting us know? I had to call the church to find out what was happening. They confirmed that it was a cell mast going up and that their lawyers would call me. This was on Monday June 24. 

I’m still awaiting the response. I also contacted the school. They said that the church signed the contract in 2017.”

She said she had raised objections with both the school and the church. 

“The response from the school is that the company (Atlas Towers) said that the radiation levels are acceptable and within the normal range allowable. However, would that company, the school or the church allow any of their children or grandchildren to attend school in close proximity to a cell mast? No, they wouldn’t,” she said.

Church secretary Henry Strydom said the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa in general and the Friend of God Assembly in particular had a “God-given duty to care for and look out for the community. However, we cannot and will not be deterred from doing what we feel we can be doing for the community. Keep in mind that the approximately 2 000 members of the assembly are very much part of the community”.

Mr Strydom said the church had complied with all legal steps to put up the mast and had consulted the preschool’s management and addressed their concerns.

“We were able to present them with proof of two independent health certificates of two schools in Cape Town. Furthermore, an independent health test will also be done on the cellphone mast at the church, once construction is completed,” he said.

He said Mr Adams’s suggestion that the church had “immorally” allowed a tower to be erected was without foundation and therefore rejected. 

“At the end of the day, we have to do what we believe is morally correct until proven otherwise,” he added.

In interview with Northern News last year, Mr Strydom said the church had agreed to the tower because it “would not detract from the aesthetics of the church building and at the same time it would generate money for the church to be used to expand the welfare and community arm of our assembly”.

Atlas Towers project manager Wian von Solms told Northern News on Monday that work on the mast had started on Thursday June 20 and should be compete by the end of July.

Asked about residents’ concerns about the cell mast going up, he said: “This is a loaded question and not factually correct.”

Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said there had been nine objections to the rezoning application.  An appeal against the Municipal Planning Tribunal’s subsequent approval of the application had been dismissed by the Appeals Advisory Panel on Tuesday March 26. 

“Building plans for the erection of the cell mast was subsequently submitted and approved on Wednesday May 29,” Ms Nieuwoudt said. 

Mismo Educare’s owner, Kristen Lingervelder, refused to comment when asked if parents had expressed unhappiness or if children had been removed from the preschool because of the cell mast.