The civil rights organisation AfriForum has raised its concerns that the Draft Policy and Policy Direction on Rapid Deployment of Electronic Communication Networks and Facilities, or fifth-generation (5G) policy, will violate property rights and pose specific safety risks to landowners.
In a written response to the draft, submitted to the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies on September 1, the organisation said it was not against technological advancement, however, it needs to progress in a responsible and constitutional manner without violating people’s fundamental rights.
“The policy determines, for example, that the installation of 5G equipment may be done without the owner’s approval. Moreover, persons who install the equipment, which includes masts, towers and optical fibre on poles as well as underground in channels, will have access to property to lay out and erect the equipment – with or without the owner’s approval,” said AfriForum community safety legal and risk manager Marnus Kamfer.
Installers will only have to give fair notice to landowners that they will be installing the 5G equipment.
Further, the owner of the property will not necessarily have the right to compensation and government need not register a servitude against the title deeds of the property for the installation and erection.
“One of the main concerns that we have with the 5G policy in its current format is that it exposes landowners to various dangers. First, the violation of their property rights; and second, government cannot expect, given our excessively high crime figures, that landowners are informed only by notice that strangers will be accessing their properties,” he pointed out.
AfriForum therefore contends that the proposed policy, which allows entry and installation without proper compensation, is arbitrary and unconstitutional.