Suspected 5G/Covid-19 Conspiracy Theorists Burn Down MTN and Vodacom Towers in South Africa


The resurgence of 5G-Coronavirus conspiracy theories has sparked the burning and destruction of not less than 3 Telecommunication towers belonging to MTN and Vodacom in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

According to Communications Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, as many as three towers belonging to the mobile operators were destroyed between Tuesday and Wednesday. However, TechCentral reported that as many as four towers were burnt, with an unsuccessful attempt to torch the fifth.

5G-COVID-19 Conspiracy Theorist Burn 4 MTN, Vodacom Towers in South Africa
Inside a torched MTN base station in KwaZulu-Natal Credit: MTN

New wave of COVID-19 Conspiracy theories

Speaking on the vandalism, the minister linked the act to the resurgence of conspiracy theories which link the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic to the rollout of 5G technology.

linking 5G to Covid-19 formed part of a “misinformation campaign” that posed a “threat to investments” made by telecoms operators.

This is not the first time telecom masts were set ablaze due to conspiracy theories linking 5G to the pandemic. Last year, several 5G phone masts were set alight in the UK after online conspiracy theories misleadingly linked the cell towers to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

5G-COVID-19 Conspiracy Theorist Burn 4 MTN, Vodacom Towers in South Africa
Credit: MTN

Globally, over 80 tower vandalizations have been linked to 5G- Coronavirus conspiracies

Suggested read: Low Latency, Network Slicing; 6 Benefits of 5G You Probably Didn’t Know of

The latest wave of mast torching linked to 5G-conspiracy comes after an eThekwini (Durban) councillor, Sifiso Mngadi, reportedly shared a voice note with colleagues over Christmas linking 5G networks to the spread of Covid-19.

Although South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC and other opposition political parties have slammed and debunked the remark, the vandalism shows that many people still believe the theories.

Ndabeni-Abrahams described the perpetrators as “anarchists” and urged the police to arrest anyone who is threatening or removing infrastructure network stations or towers.

Similarly, a Vodacom spokeswoman, revealed that the company is working closely with local law enforcement to bring these criminals to book as well as to help protect the company’s network infrastructure across the country.

5G-COVID-19 Conspiracy Theorist Burn 4 MTN, Vodacom Towers in South Africa
Credit: MTN

5G already rolling out in South Africa

Since May last year, Vodacom has been rolling out 5G in South Africa with the use of existing infrastructure to place 5G base stations across the country.

According to company, 5G network supports both mobile and fixed wireless services and is now available on 20 live sites in Gauteng and two in Cape Town.

To prevent more attacks, a lot more needs to be done to dissuade misguided believers of the conspiracy theories and totally kill the misinformation fueling the lies.

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