South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Thursday condemned the burning and destruction of cellphone network infrastructure towers by unknown people.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said three towers belonging to network service providers Vodacom and MTN were burnt and destroyed between Tuesday and Wednesday this week in KwaZulu-Natal, following a resurgence in conspiracy theories that link the emergence of the COVID-19 to 5G.
"It is regrettable that the much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country currently 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 multi-pronged efforts and initiatives to stem the spread of the virus. We, therefore, urge the police to arrest anyone who is threatening to remove infrastructure network stations or towers," she said.
"We also need to remind South Africans that spreading fake news or disinformation about COVID-19 is a punishable offense. Those involved in the destruction of infrastructure are not only breaking the law but also violate people's right to access information," she said.
There have been some utterances in South Africa that 5G causes COVID-19. Ndabeni-Abrahams explained that the WHO had dispelled the myth and explained that research has shown no adverse health effect is linked with exposure to wireless technologies. ■
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