News for Botswana

Mochudi Mascom Tower Was Dangerous- British Scientist
Botswana Created: 19 Apr 2010
A visiting British microwaves scientist has claimed that the Mascom tower that used to stand on the royal hill in Mochudi was just too dangerous for people's health.

Barrie Trower, was hosted by Bakgatla for a one-day workshop on the dangers of cellphone technology at Rasesa Lodge on Friday.
Unknown people destroyed the Mascom tower early this year after the Bagatla tribe resolved in a kgotla meeting it would be demolished so that their Kgosi Nkolo, Kgafela II, could return to the palace to rule his nation.

Before that the youthful ruler lived in Median village because he feared that his life as well as those of the young children he is raising would be compromised if they lived under the Mascom tower. Gael insists that his father, the late Kiosk Lynched II, who died of brain tumour in 2007, suffered from the effects of the microwaves emitted by the tower.

Police are said to be investigating the destruction of the tower with the aim of prosecuting the perpetrators.

Trower, who says he has been engaged by several European governments in the field of microwaves, and cellphone technology, says he recommends that cellphone towers be located seven kilometres away from a community. "That is for an average one, but for a bigger tower like the one that was on the hill, it should be nine kilometres.

Trower said unlike other waves, microwaves are especially dangerous because they can penetrate any object.

He told the workshop that cellphones are unsafe for use by children under 16 years of age because the microwaves can destroy their still growing immune systems.

Trower said children exposed to cell phone towers, which are usually erected near homes, schools and churches are at a greater risk because the microwaves attack their immune systems before they are fully functional. He said the microwaves easily penetrate children's soft bones, skulls and bone marrow resulting in all sorts of ailments.

Trower said young women are also in danger especially those sleeping near cellphone towers. "Young women have delicate cells that cannot withstand radiation...if you sleep near a microwave field, cancer cells that are usually produced by the body are being destroyed, thereby increasing chances of cancer".

He also said ovaries in young women can be adversely affected as microwave radiation can alter their genetic structure, resulting in genetically deformed children which will go for generations. "This is where it stops being fun and games...there is no known safety level for microwave radiation which is safe for children...the World Health Organisation announced last year to the European Parliament they may have an idea in 2015," Trower said.

However, Trower said after his presentation in France, that that country's government is now spending 172 million Euros pulling WIFI systems out of schools. He also said around the world today eight countries have banned the use of cellphones for children less than 16 years of age.

Some of the psychological effects of exposure to cellphone radiation among children, according to Trower include aggressive behaviour, suicidal tendencies among the youth, poor concentration in the classroom, leukaemia, cancer and poor immune system.

However, the scientist offered hope, saying that the cell phone industry can choose to drastically reduce the radiation level although that may affect their revenues. " You can have your cellphones, it just has to be set at a lower level, and eight countries have now adopted the safer level".

However, the scientist said naturally the industry would want to pump up more microwaves power to make profits by offering features like video and movie downloads. With the World Cup coming to South Africa in a few weeks' time, Trower said the cellphone industry would want to enable subscribers to download World Cup matches highlights.

The scientist also lashed at the cellphone industry for taking advantage of the communities' ignorance when they introduce cellphones.
He said the telecommunications industry should ideally follow the International Certificate for Non-Ionizing in their operations but they do not follow the guidelines to the letter. "They are naughty...it says children, and the elderly need different microwave level. So before they put it up (the cellphone tower), they should find out first about the children, and the elderly in the locality and also ask the community to report any cases of ailment that might arise as a result of the tower", Trower told the workshop.

Oct 2009, Botswana: Telecom Tower Keeps The Chief Away From His Palace
Oct 2009, Botswana: Cellphone tower radiation is a reality - SA expert
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Source: Mmegi, Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe, 19 Apr 2010

Hosts of Cellphone Towers Are Liable For Lawsuits - Scientist
Botswana Created: 19 Apr 2010
Many plot owners who earn money from hosting cellphone towers in their homes may not have a clue that they are the ones liable to be sued for radiation, not the cellphone companies.

This emerged from a presentation by a world renown scientist in the field of microwaves, Barrie Trower of Britain, to Bakgatla at Rasesa on Friday in which he said even at low levels, microwave emissions can be very dangerous.

Infact, microwaves were first used as stealth weapons by governments to destroy dissidents and political opponents.

Trower told the workshop, that during his researches in the UK and the US, he had realised that many plot owners hosting the cellphone towers had no idea that the cellphone companies had absolved themselves from any legal blameworthiness emanating from the towers and had placed such culpability squarely on the plot owners' shoulders.

Further, it emerged from a recent international conference hosted by financiers in Europe that the cellphone industry did not have insurance cover for lawsuits emanating from cellphone towers and that their contracts with the plot owners actually stated that it is the plot owners who shoulder the blame.

The workshop was attended by industry representatives and government officials, among others, while Trower was the guest of Bakgatla.
He said he knew of a court case in which a plot owner was happy to receive the equivalent of P100,000 a year for hosting a cellphone tower on his farm but was sued for $4 million by his neighbours after the tower became a health hazard that resulted in the value of their properties falling.

Many homes host cellphone towers in Botswana and are happy to receive monthly payments averaging P2,000. Trower said it is a pity that many plot owners do not know the legal troubles they get themselves into by agreeing to host the cellphone towers and signing legal documents to that effect.

Trower, who is also a retired military intelligence scientist who specialised in the area of microwaves, said the contracts plot owners have been made to sign also state that they do not have an option to remove the towers from theit plots while they may opt not to receive the money.

He blamed governments of developed countries, especially the US, for keeping the dangers of microwaves a secret from the public for many years.

Brandishing a document he said remained the US government's top secret, Trower said the report, which was compiled in 1972 by the US Navy Medical Research Institute, said there were 2,300 published papers showing that microwaves cause cancer.

"They said governments around the world should keep it a secret so the industry can make a profit," he said. "It is the most dangerous document ever to be produced.

Trower, who trained at the Government Microwave Warfare Establishment and worked with the Underwater Bomb disposal unit which used microwave, told the Rasesa workshop that microwaves were first used as stealth weapons by governments to destroy dissidents.

"They would beam microwaves at people and communities regarded as dissidents or terrorists," he said. "They would then fall ill and lose the desire to fight. For 60 years they (the governments) have been developing this."

The scientist also said he used to interrogate Russian spies during the Cold War who confessed that microwaves could be used at different levels to weaken even the minds of political opponents.
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Source: Mmegi, Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe, 19 Apr 2010

Cellphone tower radiation is a reality - SA expert
Botswana Created: 16 Oct 2009
A South African researcher in the field of electromagnetic pollution, has warned Botswana against the health hazards posed by the mushrooming cellphone towers.

Karl Muller, a former physics lecturer at Wits University and now on the managing committee of the Electromagnetic Action Group South Africa (EmagSA), has criticised a recent Botswana government statement that there have been no scientific studies to date linking cellphone towers to any chronic diseases.

In particular Dr Jeff Ramsay, was replying as the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology. Ramsay says, among other things, that in January 2004, the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), whose responsibility includes the monitoring of radio frequency matters, reported that "research in this area has been extensive and there is no replicated laboratory or epidemiological evidence that RF radiation at the power levels associated with mobile phone base stations are associated with cancer."

On the contrary though Muller says they have done much research into the scientific literature, and many investigations on health around cellphone masts (the towers) in Johannesburg.

Muller said that contrary to the Botswana government's position, every single study into general health around a mast carried out anywhere in the world (about eight studies so far have been done) has found a consistent pattern of health problems. "They include: severe headaches; chronic fatigue; sleep disorders; gastric upsets and nausea; circulation problems (high blood pressure); heart rhythm problems and palpitations; rashes and prickling skin or sensations of heating; mood swings and depression; memory and attention problems; lowered immunity and lingering infections; joint pains and aching gums; tinnitus (ringing in the ear); visual problems; dizziness and disorientation; and other complaints, including neurological disorders (e.g. epilepsy).

"We have found every single one of these symptoms and more around masts in Johannesburg, and the people tell us that when they move away from the mast, these symptoms often disappear immediately, especially fatigue, headaches and sleep disorders," the expert told Mmegi.

The researcher also tells Mmegi that there have been three studies worldwide of cancer around masts, in Germany, Austria and Israel. "All of them found significantly increased cancer rates, up by at least 200-300 percent. The main cancers seem to be brain tumors, breast cancers and leukemia. We have noted many prostate cancers near masts as well," Muller added. "I myself suffer from a very particular and unmistakable fatigue when I'm near an active mast, I can always tell when there is a mast nearby. The fatigue can last from four to six hours afterwards," Muller narrated. "So the Bakgatla are quite correct to be concerned, and I am really perturbed to hear about these deaths from brain tumors. These were previously rare, but the single biggest cause of death of children in the United States (US) and Australia is now brain tumors though, it used to be leukemia," Muller added. However, Dr Ramsay extensively quotes the findings of a Radiation Protection Inspectorate, which inspected radiation at the Phuthadikobo Hill Mascom tower in Mochudi, and found that it existed in low levels.

"No significant levels of background ionising radiation were recorded at the tower or the chief's residence to warrant concern. This inspection confirms that there is no harmful ionising radiation emissions in the area of investigation."

Ramsay said in reaching their findings the inspectors carried out radiation readings in the area at and around the tower, which were all well below the level of 1.0 micro-Sieverts per hour, which is considered to be the minimum level to warrant further investigation.

"Measurements carried indicated readings of 0.08-0.10 micro-Sieverts per hour at and around the tower and 0.09 microSieverts per hour at the Kgosi's residence located on the hill, approximately 100m from the tower. The highest reading was recorded at the Kgotla 0.18 micro-Sieverts per hour, which is still far below the 1.0 micro-Sieverts per hour threshold".

"All of the readings taken at Mochudi were also below the 0.22 micro-Sieverts per hour average background ionizing dose for most areas in Botswana that had been visited by the Radiation Inspectors as of June 2009".

However, the EmagSA official has contradicted Ramsay's statement. Muller says that comparisons with ionising radiation are not valid. "Cellphone radiation is pulsed, and it is these pulsed frequencies which interfere with biological processes," Muller said in response.

"The radiation guidelines used are only taking into account the fact that this radiation heats tissue up. However, research has shown for example that pulsed frequencies affect brainwaves at levels corresponding to one-trillionth of the guidelines used. This is not a heating effect, the brain also works on electrical pulses," he explained.

"Other health effects such as fatigue and headaches start at one-millionth of the current guidelines, according to compilations of many research studies.

"Prof Leif Salford of Lund University in Sweden found that the blood-brain barrier - which prevents toxins from entering the brain - is damaged after only two hours of exposure at levels which correspond to that found from cellphone masts. This allows toxins into the brain, and caused permanent brain damage in rats, whose blood-brain barrier is similar to that of humans".

"Prof Salford has said that the mass exposure of populations to microwaves is 'the biggest experiment ever carried out on the human race', and we are now seeing some very worrying results of this 'experiment'," Muller said.
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Source: Mmegi Mobile, MONKAGEDI GAOTLHOBOGWE, 15 Oct 2009

Telecom Tower Keeps The Chief Away From His Palace
Botswana Created: 5 Oct 2009
A communications tower erected by Mascom mobile phone service provider at the royal hill Phuthadikobo, just above the Bakgatla leader's home, is keeping the chief away.

The chief will not come home until the tower is removed. Bakgatla vowed on Saturday at a well attended Kgotla meeting that they will remove the tower, even by force so that their chief can relocate from Mokatse, near Modipane where he currently lives, to take his place at the royal house.

Kgosi (chief) Mmusi, a lawyer by profession, told the Kgotla meeting that the tower is a serious health hazard not fit to be erected in the middle of the village. He said the late Bakgatla paramount chief, Linchwe II died of a brain tumour associated with radiation transmitted by the tower. He said Linchwe's wife is also persistently ill, and they suspect it could be one of the diseases associated with the tower.

On Saturday, Bakgatla regiments climbed up the hill to inspect the Mascom tower so that they can properly equip themselves with the right tools to bring it down when the time finally comes.

Scientific reports say the towers emit Radio Frequencies (RF), a form of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR), for a distance of nearly three miles. They are essentially the same frequency radiation emitted by a microwave oven.

Studies show that even at low levels, there is evidence that radiation damages cell tissue and DNA. It has been linked to brain tumours, cancer, suppressed immune function, depression, miscarriage, Alzheimer's disease and numerous other illnesses.

Bakgatla have resolved to elect a team of volunteers, led by former cabinet minister, Ray Molomo to discuss the problem with the authorities. The volunteers have been told to see the ministers of Lands and Housing; Communications, Science and Technology; and Local Government. The Kgotla meeting resolved that should the ministers fail to heed their cry, the community will take down the three communications towers erected in the village.

Kgosi Mmusi lashed out at Mascom for deliberately withholding sensitive information about the health effects of the tower from the community. He suggested that the company should be charged with criminal negligence since it knew the hazardous effects of the tower but decided to keep quiet. He suggested that Mascom should be charged for squatting on Bakgatla land.

The meeting heard that attempts by the Bakgatla royals to call Mascom and Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), the Mochudi Land Board, and the Minister of Science Communications and Technology for a meeting did not bear fruit. All the parties failed to honour requests for a meeting.

Meanwhile a section of the Bakgatla regiments were itching for immediate removal of the tower on Saturday, but Molomo prevailed upon them to be patient. He said the removal of the tower by the community will be done as a last resort.
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Source: MMegi, Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe, 05 Oct 2009

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