The civil rights organisation AfriForum today submitted commentary to the Department of Communication and Digital technology against the Draft Policy and Policy Direction on Rapid Deployment of Electronic Communication Networks and Facilities (the so-called 5G policy). According to AfriForum, this draft policy contains various concerning regulations that will among others violate property rights and pose specific safety risks to landowners.
In its commentary, AfriForum points out that it is in no way against technological advancement, but that this advancement must happen 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. According to the policy, installers will only have to give fair notice to landowners that they will be installing the 5G equipment. The owner of the property on which the equipment is to be erected will not necessarily have the right to be compensation, either.
According to the 5G policy, government need not register a servitude against the title deeds of the property at the authorities for the installation and erection of the above, but only a right of user.
“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; second, government cannot expect – given our excessively high crime figures – that landowners are informed only by notice that strangers will be accessing their properties,” says Marnus Kamfer, AfriForum’s Legal and Risk Manager for Community Safety.