Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has condemned the burning of cellphone network tower infrastructure amid bogus claims the coronavirus pandemic is linked to 5G.

The ministry has warned that spreading misinformation about the pandemic is a punishable offence and police should arrest those spreading fake news about 5G.

It says three towers belonging to Vodacom and MTN have been torched this week in KwaZulu-Natal.

5G is the new high speed mobile data network that promises very high download speeds.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams has described the misinformation campaign as a threat to infrastructure investments.

High speed mobile data is considered one of the major elements in fostering economic growth in the digital economy.

“It is regrettable that the much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country is 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.

“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 of removing infrastructure network stations or towers,” added Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Security practices should be put in place for 5G rollout:

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic there have been several social media campaigns linking 5G network to the outbreak of the virus. The World Health Organisation has, however, dispelled such myths.

In their recent statement on this matter the WHO said: “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.”

The WHO statement on the matter was also echoed by South Africa’s Department of Health, which also described such assertions as unfounded.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams says her department is currently finalising a draft policy for the rollout of 5G networks. “This process will be subjected to public consultation as is it required by the Electronic Communications Act of 2005,” she concludes.