Three 5G towers were burnt this week in KwaZulu-Natal, as fears relating to conspiracy theories that the towers are linked to COVID-19 spread.

The towers in question belonged to Vodacom and MTN. MTN confirmed to IOL that those belonging to them that were burnt were not even 5G towers. 

Communications and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams released a statement condemning the acts of vandalism and urged the South African Police Service (SAPS) to find and arrest those responsible.

“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 burning of the cellphone towers follows a resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic to 5G mobile technology.”

Conspiracies about 5G network towers and how they are linked to illnesses, especially COVID-19 have been spreading across the world for a while now. Recently, ANC ward 24 councillor Sfiso Mngadi fanned some of these falsehoods in comments he made against the installation of 5G towers in the country. These theories are baseless and have been debunked multiple times.

“To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies,” explains the World Health Organisation.

5G is expected to begin rolling out more seriously this year once the networks gain more spectrum following the auction in March.

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