Johannesburg, South Africa
May 23, 2010
A very complex situation with illegal masts here in South Africa has led to myself laying serious criminal charges against the company Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), which operates iBurst technology. This is broadband wireless, used here to access the Internet (many people cannot get a landline because of cable theft, a terrible problem in this country, and are forced to use wireless services). WBS is commonly known as “iBurst” in South Africa, although it should be noted that iBurst is proprietary technology licensed by the Japanese company Kyocera.
Since some of what I’m doing here may be of interest to other people fighting masts, I decided to write up this case in full. These criminal charges have been laid in my personal capacity, although I am working with several different groups on these issues. I felt there was a very urgent situation here, with reports of illness coming in which might be associated with completely illegal masts, and I wanted to act quickly and thus independently. It’s important to note that we do not have any health regulations in place in South Africa to protect us from exposure from masts, operators are just told to “follow ICNIRP” and regulate themselves, so it is very important for us to focus on procedural irregularities in trying to stop masts in residential areas and schools.
I will just try summarise the situation briefly. I became aware of an application iBurst was making to “rectify” three illegal masts. “Rectification” is a process here where you admit that you have broken the environmental and planning regulations, and hope that by “coming clean” you will get a reduced penalty.
I eventually discovered that iBurst was trying to “rectify” at least 50 totally illegal masts -- this was told to me by the department which handles these cases. I then saw that the CEO of iBurst had written an article on the website TechCentral.co.za boasting about how quickly his company had rolled out its infrastructure, and saying it should get more bandwidth because of its high “BS” ratio, the large number of base stations it had put up compared with allocated spectrum:
This article by the iBurst CEO, Jannie van Zyl, accused other operators of operating in a “Wild West” manner, which I thought was pretty rich coming from a company which had admitted in writing to putting up a large chunk of its infrastructure totally illegally. I tried to place a comment on the same website, pointing out that iBurst’s high “BS” ratio was achieved by ignoring all the planning laws and regulations. The website would not carry my comment, since it was making serious allegations against iBurst -- although I had documented in detail my reasons for making these allegations, quoting iBurst’s exact words in admitting to its unlawful masts.
I actually feel my researched response to this article was “fair comment” and should have been carried in full under a deep principle in journalism, recognised in media law in this country, of audi partem alteram, or “hear the other side” of the story. However, before deciding not to publish my comment, the website first gave it to iBurst, which replied basically by defaming me. I will give my comment and then give iBurst’s response to TechCentral. Please bear with me, this is all a very long story, but I would like to document it as fully as I can.
My comment to TechCentral, taken off screen, but which was not published:
(Your comment is awaiting moderation.)
Karl Muller says:
17 March 2010 at 3:10 pm
Very interesting to see Jannie van Zyl making much -- indeed a whole industry principle -- of his “BS ratio”, the number of base stations iBurst has installed compared with allocated spectrum.
As it happens, I have spent the last couple of months trying to find out exactly how iBurst managed to achieve this high BS ratio. It is an interesting story, which is still unfolding, but I can report certain facts here. It’s a long tale but bear with me -- it gets interesting towards the end.
A little while back Van Zyl was quizzed about 13 base stations for which iBurst (as Wireless Business Solutions) was seeking “rectification” for “illegal commencement of activities”: http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29368:iburst-towers-rectified&catid=260:telecoms&Itemid=59
Rectification is a term used by the Green Scorpions for when a company admits to illegal activities in return for a reduced fine. Van Zyl was quoted as saying that this was a “small matter of paperwork” which had been settled by a R3000 fine, and the matter was “resolved”.
Jannie van Zyl, I regret to tell you, is telling outright lies again.
I have spoken to at least eight officials in the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), which handles this matter. I also made an application under PAIA (Provision of Access to Information Act) with respect to one of these masts, in Blairgowrie, GDARD ref no S24G/04/09-10/0003. The “S24″ indicates an application made under Section 24G of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). Much of what I am going to quote below comes from iBurst’s own words in this application.
I registered as an interested and affected person in this application as a representative of scores of Blairgowrie residents who reported illnesses consistent with microwave radiation –symptoms in fact identical to those reported in the Craigavon iBurst case, although “smart meters” installed by City Power, which apparently began radiating in unintended ways, were also implicated in these health issues. Over 70 Blairgowrie residents registered a range of illnesses including severe skin rashes, nausea, dizziness, severe headaches, eye inflammations and visual disorders, memory and attention problems, acute blood pressure fluctuations, chronic fatigue, severe sleep disorders and tinnitus -- exactly the same syndrome reported in Craigavon, along with problems with pets. Many of these symptoms abated when the smart meters were switched off, but others have continued. An investigation by the local authorities is under way.
I have said repeatedly (on the basis of our measurements) that it seems there is a “soup” of radiation in the area which is combining to create these effects. As with Craigavon, there is no industry or agriculture in the area, no complaints of poor water quality, and no evidence of any other cause of these symptoms, which have been very severe and incapacitating in some cases. Again, residents have been to doctors and have spent thousands of rands in allergy tests etc which proved negative. There is clearly something going on in the suburb, but no one knows what.
iBurst (by their own admission) have had a totally illegal mast operating in the area since 2006. Their application for rectification is for “Unlawful construction and erection of 3m pole mast with an antenna array and placement of antenna container” on top of “TSD House”. This is Telsaf Data House, corner Conrad Drive and Barkston Drive, Blairgowrie.
In their application, iBurst (represented by Tekplan Environmental consultants of Polokwane) state: “As a responsible Corporate Citizen, WBS (iBurst) is desirous to comply with all environmental laws and regulations. WBS is desirous to ‘come clean’ once and for all, in respect of all the activities for which it does not have environmental authorization.”
It recounts that in February and April 2008, the company met with the department to “jointly determine the best way to attain compliance” for an unspecified number of illegal masts. The iBurst application continues: “It was decided that WBS should submit the applications in batches.” It also notes that the Blairgowrie application “refers to an activity that commenced while the Environmental Conservation Act 1989 [the forerunner to the NEMA] was in place” -- i.e. before a certain date in 2006. I spoke to GDARD people who were at these meetings, who confirmed for me that this initial application for rectification of 13 masts was just the first “batch” of these applications, and was specifically those applications that were also covered by ECA, the previous Act.
The admission of guilt fines of R3000 for each of these 13 masts were specifically for violating Section 22 of ECA. This is a very small part of the total application for rectification. I checked with at least half a dozen people involved -- from director level to those actually handling the files -- and all of them emphatically said that the rectification had NOT been completed, there was still much outstanding. One official emphasised to me that these R3000 fines were “criminal” convictions, but in no way settled the issue.
So when Jannie van Zyl says the matter of the 13 masts was “resolved” by the payment of these fines, he is once again telling outright, deliberate lies.
GDARD has laid out a stringent series of conditions which WBS must meet in order to qualify for “rectification”. These includes provisions such as:
- The unlawful activity must be advertised in a local newspaper and on the site;
- The adjacent landowners, tenants and residents’ associations must be informed directly, in writing;
- Interested and affected parties must be given a 30-day period within which to lodge any objections;
- The local District or Metropolitan Municipality must be formally invited to register as an I&AP (interested and affected person);
- Proof of the publication of the notice etc must be submitted to the Department;
- An environmental management plan identifying measures to protect the environment from any harm as a result of the activity, and measures to prevent, control and mitigate any forms of pollution, environmental impacts and environmental degradation must be provided; and other conditions.
Not a single one of these conditions is addressed in the iBurst application. We were made aware of the application by one of the local councillors, but there is no evidence whatsoever in the application of any public process followed by iBurst in seeking to rectify its activities -- no newspaper advertisements, no pictures of planning notices etc as is usual. The councillor responsible for the immediate area, Don Forbes, told me he had been sent an application for “condonation” of the mast, and he said he refused, insisting that all the proper channels be followed, including consulting the residents and ratepayers properly.
Blairgowrie residents I spoke to knew of no public process to “rectify” this mast.
WBS is told by GDARD that a copy of submissions made by I&APs must be submitted along with the other information. I and at least two other I&APs submitted objections to this particular Blairgowrie application to Tekplan last year. They are not included in the submission.
I spoke to Theo Kotze, who told me he is the senior executive at Tekplan. I had requested the whole rectification application from him last year. He sent me a cover sheet with this application’s reference number, and a generic document showing iBurst radiation levels, signed by Sasan Parvin, chief technical officer of iBurst. This document has some odd details, including the statement that iBurst technology “does not make a ‘Beam forming’, on the transmission side …. it is like a conventional radio system. Therefore, it is a big difference from beam forming which is like military phased array radar.”
It is interesting that I cannot find this document from Tekplan anywhere in iBurst’s application. Long before I received this PAIA information, I told Theo Kotze that I couldn’t believe this generic document he sent me was the whole application for this Blairgowrie rectification. He assured me that it was, and when I phoned to try confirm this (in January) he said with some irritation that he had definitely sent me the whole application, and he was not prepared to talk about the matter any further, and referred me to Sasan Parvin. It is now quite clear that Kotze was also lying when he says he sent me the whole application.
I phoned Sasan Parvin in January to ask about this story about iBurst not being “beam forming”. He was very insistent about this, saying that it was just an “analogy”.
I have made reference elsewhere to a Kyocera document about its proprietary iBurst technology, as deployed by WBS: http://global.kyocera.com/prdct/telecom/office/iburst/technicaloverview20080730.pdf
This paper contains the words “beamforming” in its title, the first paragraph and in other places. It shows distinct “beams” of radiation going to three user terminals, and says that at a distance of 100 metres, it can distinguish between three user terminals spaced just 20cm apart. WBS’s description talks about making a “null transmit” to the “un-desire signals” (sic) which is also mentioned in the Kyocera document -- a kind of “null beam”. My suspicion is actually that Sasan Parvin is actually closer to the truth: I am beginning to suspect that rather than channelling a narrow “beam” at a user, as shown in the Kyocera paper, iBurst creates a highly complex interference pattern of a myriad “hot spots” around its masts (with a null beam where it is receiving data from a user terminal) -- and just makes sure the correct user terminal is within an appropriate “hot spot”. This is now a guess, and I would genuinely welcome informed comment on exactly how iBurst actually functions, because there is definitely a contradiction between what WBS says and what Kyocera puts forward. I certainly find it difficult to believe that iBurst channels a narrow “beam” that can distinguish between three user terminals 20cm apart at 100m. If in fact there is a dense pattern of interference “hot spots” around an iBurst mast, it would significantly change the assessment of its impact on the environment.
But this is all just the beginning. This is how WBS justifies erecting these illegal masts. It says:
a. WBS obtained a licence from ICASA on 15 May 2004.
b. The licence compelled (sic) WBS to provide broadband services.
c. In view of the ICASA licence conditions WBS had no choice (sic) other than to commence with construction of its Base Stations as soon as possible.
e. WBS did not deem “rooftop installations” as possessing potential to result in a significant environmental impact. The reason for this is that no disturbance (sic) of the bio-physical environment results from such installations.
Now, the whole point of a mast is to RADIATE across the environment. I understand that iBurst masts can cover a radius of at least 10km. The whole point of the installation is to “disturb” the physical environment with radiation. If they build a nuclear power plant down the road from you, they will go to great lengths to shield everything and make sure there is no radiation: the whole point of a mast is precisely to transmit and affect the immediate environment with pulsed microwave radiation. So this “justification” for going ahead and building masts rests on absolute lies and deception about the fundamental nature of the activity.
As for visual impact: photographs show the mast, with associated peering dishes, quite visible on top of this building. Not a pretty sight from your house. It is also right next to Delta Park, a conservation area.
So: if these 13 masts are just the first “batch”, the ones involving the old legislation, how many illegal masts has iBurst erected in total? This was something people were very reluctant to tell me -- but as far as I can make out, there are at least 30 masts which are actively being prosecuted, and at least 50 illegal masts in total of which the department is aware. In other words, a significant proportion of iBurst’s network is known to be totally illegal, is in complete contravention of all the environmental legislation, and residents have been given no opportunity to object, and not told that a microwave mast is being quietly put up on a rooftop in their neighbourhood. There is a potential administrative fine of R1 million for each mast. Vodacom has a significant shareholding in iBurst: I would think that Vodacom shareholders at the very least should be informed that the company faces a significant possible liability in this regard.
iBurst are saying that Icasa licence conditions “forced” it to break all the environmental legislation in this country. Yet, as far as I know, Icasa licence conditions insist that all environmental legislation and regulations MUST be followed. And as far as I am aware, there is no legal “compulsion” on iBurst to provide broadband services in urban areas.
WBS goes so far as to say, in their “Business Case” for the rectification: “WBS has a Constitutional right in terms of the licence granted to it by the telecommunication authorities, ICASA, to construct, operate and maintain the national mobile telecommunication network in South Africa.”
I have scoured the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and I cannot see any provision which by any stretch of the imagination gives telecoms companies the right to build masts. I would be fascinated to hear from Jannie van Zyl where he finds this right. We have the right to a healthy environment, and rights to privacy, and bodily and psychological integrity, which rights are violated by radiation which penetrates our homes and our bodies and our brains. But I cannot find any countervailing right by companies to radiate the environment.
We have already lodged serious objections to these rectification applications, and I now have every intention of lodging a major complaint against WBS with Icasa, saying that they have seriously violated all the environmental legislation, and therefore are in total breach of their licence conditions. I am just floating the facts here first, and would welcome any comments from informed people about the issues raised.
There is no question that CEO Jannie van Zyl is also concealing illegal activity by his company, which concealment in itself is a crime. Under the 2008 Companies Act he can be sued in his personal capacity -- and with at least 50 illegal masts, we are talking about a large number of people affected. And also given that Vodacom shareholders have lodged complaints about corporate governance breaches by the company, including its “family” relationship with iBurst, I think the JSE should also investigate this pattern of illegality in how iBurst built its network -- this being what made it attractive to Vodacom.
Van Zyl talks glibly about being “operationally capable of the logistical and technical challenges of building a wireless network”. It is quite a mission to get any structure through the planning processes. Honest, decent, legal companies which go through the proper legal procedures are at an immense competitive disadvantage to rogue “Wild West” operators which simply ignore the law completely and go and do what they like, where they like -- and then boast about how quickly they’ve deployed their infrastructure!
WBS says in the application: “The corporate and public image of the company can potentially suffer if the company is found to have transgressed legislative requirements.” This is quite rich in view of the fact that the application is admitting exactly that the company transgressed all the planning and environmental legislation. And then publicly the company lies and says the whole matter was settled and was just a “small” omission of paperwork.
So one thing is for certain. Jannie van Zyl’s high “BS ratio” has been achieved by totally illegal means -- and yet he uses this ratio as a reason to be given more spectrum. Something is very, very rotten here. This is actually systematic corporate criminality. It’s time there was a proper investigation of this whole situation. Officials on the ground in GDARD dealing with masts tell me that there are “hundreds” of illegal masts generally, their desks are covered with files, they are inundated with these cases and cannot cope.
It is time there was a major investigation into these illegal practices by the telecoms industry, and basic principles of corporate governance were made to apply to these operators.
This was iBurst’s response to my comment, passed on to me by TechCentral:
"The statements by Karl Muller are riddled with factual inaccuracies, where they are not downright libellous. Mr Muller presents himself up as an expert on the topic of RF radiation, and is the self-proclaimed leader of a "radio mast safety" organisation. He will not, however provide corroborating information as to his qualifications to comment, or the size or nature of membership of the organisation he claims to represent (as far as we can establish, he is the only member). He makes accusations of criminal intent and action, corruption and conspiracy by our company and individuals in its management team, as well as third-party consultants, the industry regulator and other government bodies -- and even the WHO. He insists that he has proof, but has not published it. Mr Muller's activism may be well intentioned, but his various claims mixes truth, innuendo and outright falsehoods that would take enormous amounts of time and effort to debunk. We will not continue to engage with Mr Muller or his accusations, but are very clear that we regards what he says as libel, and it is actionable in a court of law. If Mr Muller believes a crime has been committed, then he is duty-bound to file a complaint with the police."
A pure personal attack on me, which fails to address any of the evidence I gave. Incidentally, from the bad grammar (“claims mixes” instead of “claims mix”, “we regards what he says” etc), I am fairly certain this comment was written personally by iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl. I am unfortunately all too familiar with his style.
It is critical to understand that under company law in South Africa, a company which tells material lies about any aspect of its business is committing a serious criminal offence. So I decided to take up iBurst’s invitation to “file a complaint”, and lodged a criminal case with the police here, having consulted our Commercial Crime branch.
You will see below that in addition to the charges relating to the illegal masts, I raise the issue of a totally illegal “experiment” which iBurst conducted on the residents of Craigavon. This entailed the CEO of iBurst telling explicit lies about when he switched his mast off, in a meeting with concerned residents who were worried about their health and the health of their children. People have said to me in forums: how is it a crime for Jannie van Zyl of iBurst to switch off his tower? The point is that he LIED about it, deliberately and explicitly, when negotiating with people who had come to him in good faith to discuss their health problems. People here simply do not seem to understand that it is a crime for a company official to tell blatant lies in the course of business when negotiating with people. The CEO of iBurst clearly thought he was being extremely clever by lying and trying to trick people: you can see this in this article, which was included in my submission to the police as Appendix F:
You can see here that Jannie van Zyl, CEO of iBurst, boasts openly about lying to the residents and trying to “fool” them as to when he switched his mast off, to try trick them into saying they were still having health problems. (In fact, the main people he was negotiating with had already left their homes and were recovering their health in rented accommodation, and his “experiment” was being conducted on empty houses).
Clearly, Van Zyl does not understand that telling lies like this is a serious criminal offence. But as I pointed out in a comment that was posted on the same MyBroadband.co.za site that carried this article, it is one thing to lie. It is another thing to lie when the whole point of your lie is to violate the Constitution, which is the supreme law in South Africa. Article 12 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of South Africa clearly forbids any experiments from being carried out on people without their informed consent. In fact, Van Zyl was told directly about this constitutional provision when he first mooted some kind of “experiment” to see if his mast was causing the residents’ health problems. Here is my comment on MyBroadband.co.za, to which iBurst never replied, although the CEO is a very “chatty” member of this forum:
We have now become aware that South Africa -- as one of the Allied powers at the end of World War 2 -- signed the Nuremburg Code, which also explicitly forbids experiments on people without their informed consent. This is part of an international binding treaty. Now, the World Health Organisation has told the European Parliament that it will only report on the general issue of cellphones and health in 2015, and that it had only started looking at children’s health and cellphone radiation in 2009 and would report on this in the distant future. This means that the entire world is explicitly being used in an “experimental trial” to see how many of us are going to be made ill by microwave radiation from mobile phone masts etc. Prof Olle Johansson of Karolinksa Institute stated years ago that the worldwide bathing of populations in microwaves was the “biggest experiment ever” on the human race.
The Nuremburg Code may provide a “golden bullet” for anyone fighting legal battles against a mast. You have the absolute right to say “No” to being used in an experiment on your health -- such as having a mast near your home, or near your child’s school. I don’t know if anyone has tried this approach in a court of law. However, here in South Africa, thanks to iBurst, we have an even more egregious case of an explicit “experiment” being carried out on the public -- which “experiment” required the CEO of the company to tell conscious, deliberate lies to people, which in itself is a criminal offence for a company official.
That is the basic outline of my presentation to the police in South Africa. An article about this case did appear on the website TechCentral.co.za -- despite several requests to this website to focus on the illegal masts, which was why I originally approached them, and NOT to look at the “illegal experiment” angle, the article is mostly about this experiment. Nonetheless, you will see that iBurst repeat that their masts are all “legal”, in direct contradiction to what they themselves admit in writing to the local government agency. So again, as far as I can see, this is a clear case where they are again telling lies about their illegal activities, repeating this criminal offence.
The editor of TechCentral by this time had my full affidavit, and my full comment where I quote iBurst in detail admitting to a host of illegal masts, which they planned to rectify in “batches”. Yet he allowed iBurst to deny that they had any illegal masts, without pressing them on the evidence of their own words:
Now, I am a professional sub-editor, with years of experience in major national newspapers and news bureaus here. It is part of my job to spot any legal problems with copy I am editing. If I was subbing this story as a complete outsider, I would definitely have gone to the editor and said, “If the evidence this guy Karl Muller has presented is true, and iBurst have actually admitted in writing to illegal masts, then iBurst are actually repeating a criminal offence by denying their masts are illegal -- are you happy for your website to be used as a vehicle for iBurst to repeat this apparent lie?”
I have been placed in this type of situation many times in the newsroom. One newspaper, when I left their services, was kind enough to say at my farewell that I had saved the publication “hundreds of thousands of rands” by spotting legal problems. I am just pointing out here that the media in South Africa seem to overlook the fact that company law makes it a criminal offence to tell lies like this, and the online publications mentioned seem quite happy to carry these lies from iBurst -- and in the case of the “illegal experiment”, seem quite happy to quote without query the CEO of iBurst boasting openly about his lies and how he had tried to fool people. At the most basic level of good corporate governance, any journalist should stop and think about a company CEO boasting about telling lies to people who have come to him in good faith over concern about their children’s health.
Personally, I believe this boasting is all part of the general arrogance of the telecoms companies, in South Africa and in other countries. I have struggled to find any way in which citizens here can assert their most basic rights against the telecoms operators -- including looking at other provisions in the SA Constitution, such as the right to a healthy environment, the right to privacy, the right to bodily and psychological integrity, and the right to have our children protected.
But I have stated one thing over and again to people who want to know “the truth” about microwaves and health. I tell them: The truth is that we are being used in an experiment. And now I am aware that the Nuremburg Code gives us the absolute, inalienable right to REFUSE to be used in such an experiment. I hope this case I have lodged with the South African police against iBurst will help people around the world fighting for their rights against masts.
Anyway, below is the full affidavit I made to the South African Police Service. This is now registered at Linden SAPS Station in Johannesburg as Case 853/04/2010. It is registered at this police station as it covers the suburb of Blairgowrie, where I made an application for information about an illegal iBurst mast, and where I am registered as an “Interested and Affected Person” (I&AP). I have made links where I can to the articles mentioned. And if anyone thinks that we are joking about the health problems and the rashes reported in the suburb of Blairgowrie, they can take a look at this video:
It is about radiating “smart meters” installed in the suburb, but many of the health problems reported occurred very near this illegal iBurst mast. The severe rashes shown are very similar to the terrible rashes reported in Craigavon.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
April 26, 2010
Charges against Wireless Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd for serious legal violations
1. I, Mr Karl Mosupatsela Muller, hereby wish to swear the following affidavit in support of charges against Wireless Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd (“WBS”) for actions which I believe correspond to serious violations of criminal and company law; the most basic principles of ethical corporate governance; the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution; international human rights treaties which are binding on South Africa; and to defamation of character of those who seek to bring to light the company’s illegal doings.
2. I have been concerned for the last ten years with the impact of wireless technology on health. WBS, which uses “iBurst” proprietary technology and which company is itself widely known as “iBurst”, came to my attention when a mast they erected in the residential suburb of Craigavon in Johannesburg in 2009 -- apparently without properly consulting the residents as required by the planning regulations -- was implicated in a localised epidemic of what I am now certain was radiation-induced illness. Over 50 residents reported a variety of symptoms in themselves and their pets, all of which symptoms were consistent with microwave exposure. It is a fact that the type of microwave broadband wireless technology used by iBurst has been shown to be particularly dangerous to human health and the environment. I attach a submission I made to the World Health Organisation regarding this technology and the health impact it seems to have had on residents near this mast (Appendix A).
3. During this saga, which involved allegations that WBS had not followed the planning regulations properly, I became aware of an application WBS had made for “rectification” of at least three illegal masts it had put up without following any planning regulations whatsoever -- these masts being in the suburb of Blairgowrie in Johannesburg (where a similar spate of health problems had been reported, with over 70 residents reporting symptoms consistent with microwave exposure), Douglasdale and Kempton Park.
4. A telephonic query I made in late 2009 to the environmental agency making this application on behalf of WBS for “rectification”, Tekplan, revealed that there were at least 13 illegal iBurst masts. This fact was referred to in an article in “noseweek” magazine of March 2010 (Appendix B).
5. In an article on the ITWeb internet news site dated 19 January 2010, the CEO of WBS/iBurst, Mr Jannie van Zyl, said this issue of 13 illegal masts was a “small” matter of an omission of paperwork, and said it had all been settled by the payment of a nominal R3,000 fine (article attached as Appendix C).
6. I made an application under the Provision of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), which administers the planning process, and also the fines and penalties for transgressions of the planning regulations. This was for the particular case of the illegal Blairgowrie mast, and I am acting in general here on behalf of concerned Blairgowrie residents who have apparently been made ill by microwave radiation, and who wish to find the source of their problems and establish their rights in terms of wireless technology installed in their suburb.
7. Through this PAIA
application (relevant parts of which are attached as Appendix D), I
(a) That there were many more illegal iBurst masts than the 13 mentioned by Tekplan;
(b) That, far from there being a “small omission of paperwork” as stated by Mr van Zyl, iBurst had completely ignored the planning processes altogether, and had systematically erected masts all over the country totally illegally, and was now trying to “come clean” (sic) and rectify this illegal situation;
(c) That GDARD had set a stringent list of conditions to be fulfilled for the rectification to be considered, none of which had been fulfilled by WBS/iBurst;
(d) That the R3,000 fines levied were for transgressions of just one section of the previous environmental act, which was superseded in 2006 by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), and that these fines in no way “settled” the whole matter as stated by Mr van Zyl, who was consciously lying when he said this to the public, and when he said these masts had been erected “properly”;
(e) That these 13 masts were only the first “batch” of a whole series of other illegal masts put up by iBurst, and that Mr van Zyl was blatantly lying when he said that there was no problem with illegal masts. Discussions with various officials in GDARD revealed that they were aware of at least 50 totally illegal iBurst masts, of which they were in the process of prosecuting 30. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these numbers, as this was not given to me in writing, but I will testify under oath here that this is exactly what I was told by the relevant GDARD officials, and I am perfectly happy to pass on the names and contact details of the GDARD officials I spoke to so that these facts can be verified. They were all absolutely insistent that the payment of R3,000 for the 13 masts erected before NEMA in no way settled the matter of these masts, let alone the other 37 illegal masts erected under the provenance of the new Act. You will see it stated in writing that it was agreed that these illegal masts would be processed in “batches”, and I established that these 13 masts were just the first “batch”, and were selected because they all went up before the new Act came into force in 2006 and were therefore subject to an extra set of penalties under the old Act.
8. In the meantime, Mr van Zyl wrote an article dated 9 March 2010 for the telecoms news website TechCentral.co.za in which he accused other operators of operating in a “Wild West” manner (Appendix E). Since I was by now aware of WBS/iBurst’s illegal masts, I wrote a comment for this website in which I revealed all these facts, and stated that if anyone was behaving in an “outlaw” fashion it was WBS, which was putting itself at a distinct competitive advantage to other companies which actually obeyed the law and went through the arduous legal planning processes before putting up masts. The editor of the TechCentral website, Mr Duncan McLeod, submitted my allegations to WBS/iBurst for their comment. This submission of mine to TechCentral contains all the material facts relevant to this part of my case and is presented here exactly as it was submitted to TechCentral and thence to WBS/iBurst for comment. It represents at least three months of research on my part, and I stand by every word I have said there. It is attached as Appendix F.
9. The legal department of WBS/iBurst made a response to this submission of mine which was a pure attack on my person, in which they denied the truth of everything I said, and implied that I am an unreliable, biased and unbalanced person -- although I had shown in their own words that they admitted systematically breaking the law, and were now trying to “come clean” (sic) to the authorities. I regard what they said as highly defamatory of my person, and I reserve the right to charge WBS/iBurst with defamation of character at a future point, although this is not the point of this present case. Their statement to TechCentral.co.za is attached as Appendix G, along with comments from the editor of the website.
10. WBS/iBurst also invited me in their response to bring criminal charges against them, if I felt that they had broken the law; and this is exactly what I am now doing.
11. Given the contentious nature of the correspondence, the editor of TechCentral.co.za decided not to publish my comment or iBurst’s rebuttal, but said he might do so if I did in fact press charges (this is all contained in Appendix G). In fact I clearly state in my submitted comment that the whole idea was to take the issue further by drawing the attention of authorities such as the regulator Icasa to the company’s illegal doings. iBurst’s licence conditions from Icasa state that they must abide by all the planning regulations and other laws of the land.
12. I believe the evidence I am presenting here proves without a question of doubt:
(a) That by their own admission, WBS/iBurst erected a large number of masts totally illegally, without following any planning process or allowing affected residents any opportunity to find out what was going on and object to these masts, fundamentally violating their rights. In at least one case (Blairgowrie) it seems people may have been made severely ill by an illegal iBurst mast, without them even knowing that the mast had gone up; and without question, it is clear that a large part of iBurst’s infrastructure has been put up totally illegally, which fact should without doubt be revealed to shareholders and the public;
(b) That WBS/iBurst consciously and deliberately lied in the media to the public, its shareholders and the regulatory authorities such as the Johannesburg Securities Exchange by denying twice in writing that it had erected illegal masts. Although WBS is not listed on the JSE, three of its major shareholders -- Vodacom, Blue Label Telecoms and Ellerines -- are listed, and their shareholders will be prejudiced by these companies’ exposure to blatant illegality and subsequent blatant lies told by WBS/iBurst about the situation;
(c) That WBS/iBurst blatantly lied in saying that the whole matter had been settled by the payment of R3,000 fines for minor “paperwork” transgressions, which proposition was strenuously denied to me by several officials within the relevant department, GDARD, although it was made clear to me that fines had indeed been paid for what were criminal transgressions of the previous environmental act (known as ECA);
(d) That by attacking my person and by sidestepping the allegations I made, which were based on their own written admissions of guilt, WBS/iBurst is resorting to defamation of character and further lies in order to try cover up its illegal activities.
13. It is one thing to break the law and erect at least 50 structures which radiate microwaves and can cause harm to both people and the environment. It is another thing to lie blatantly to the public and to shareholders about it, and I am certain that there are existing provisions under company law in South Africa (which is apparently in a state of flux at the moment) to cover such blatant lies to shareholders and the public about totally illegal behaviour which the company has admitted to in writing to the regulators, presumably in the hope that they can “keep it quiet” by paying fines and preventing affected residents from having any say in these illegal masts erected in their suburbs.
14. I understand that the Companies Act of 2008 is not yet fully in force, but I will draw attention to Section 251 of the Companies Act 1973, which states that any officer of a company who makes a written statement in relation to the affairs of the company which is false in a material way is guilty of a criminal offence and can be fined or imprisoned for a year, or both. There can be no doubt that by denying in writing to the news service TechCentral.co.za their own written admissions of guilt to GDARD with respect to illegal masts, the responsible executives of WBS/iBurst are guilty of this criminal offence.
15. I wish the prosecuting authorities to look very carefully into the written statements made by WBS/iBurst, and see whether there is not a prima facie case of severe breaches of all notions of legal and ethical conduct and principles of good governance within this company.
16. There is another, even more serious allegation to be made against WBS/iBurst. In response to complaints from the residents of Craigavon that this iBurst mast appeared to be making them and their pets ill, Mr Jannie van Zyl, CEO of iBurst, made certain undertakings to turn the mast off in meetings with concerned residents. The timelines for this negotiation are contained in a news article carried on the forum MyBroadband.co.za on 14 January 2010 (Appendix H). In this article, Mr van Zyl reveals that he deliberately lied as to the date the mast was turned off.
17. It will be clear from this news article that Mr van Zyl told material lies to the residents, in the hope of “tricking” them into saying that their health problems had continued even after the mast was turned off. This was despite Mr van Zyl being told very explicitly that the residents were not prepared to engage in any such “experiment”, and further, that such an experiment would be an explicit violation of Section 12 of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution, which absolutely and clearly forbids any medical or scientific experiments from being carried out on anyone without their informed consent.
18. Despite being told this, Mr van Zyl proceeded unilaterally with this “experiment”, which was totally rejected by the residents. It should be noted that this exercise explicitly required Mr van Zyl to lie to the residents, which he was very happy to do, indeed to boast publicly about telling these lies. It is clear that he thought he
was being extremely clever in telling these lies. It should also be noted that iBurst has four other masts in the immediate vicinity which it could have used to radiate the affected area, even if the one contentious mast had indeed been turned off. In fact, there is evidence that this mast was not fully turned off (for one thing, a “peering dish” on the mast seems to have been active, with Van Zyl saying variously that he would “never” turn this off, that it had in fact been turned off, and finally that he would not answer any further questions on this element of the mast).
19. As I pointed out on a comment posted on the MyBroadband forum on 17 January 2010 (Appendix I), once Mr van Zyl revealed that he was deliberately lying, the question becomes: where do his lies stop? Can we believe that the mast was in fact turned off, or that other masts were not being used to radiate the particular area? How can one trust someone who is proud to admit that he lied to residents about conducting an experiment in what I called “psychological and microwave warfare” on a residential suburb, including on small children and infants, where people are simply trying to live in their houses in peace?
20. I also point out that it is one thing to boast about lying to the public -- but in this case, the whole point of the lie was absolutely deliberately to violate the Bill of Rights of the SA Constitution, the highest law of the land, by submitting residents to an unwanted, uncontrolled “experiment” on their health and psychological wellbeing. I regard this as one of the most outrageous violations of the law I have ever seen from a South African company, and it must be stressed that this was done with the full knowledge and indeed the enthusiastic participation of the senior executive, Mr Jannie van Zyl, CEO of the company.
21. I will point out that this totally illegal experiment on the residents of Craigavon was not only a violation of the SA Constitution. It is also a blatant violation of the Nuremburg Treaty, which was signed after World War 2 by all the allied powers, including South Africa. The Nuremburg Code specifically forbids any medical experimentation on any persons without their fully informed consent (Appendix J).
This is an internationally binding treaty, and therefore WBS/iBurst have actually consciously and deliberately violated the human rights of South African citizens in defiance of international binding law.
22. This is a terrible reflection on the state of corporate governance and executive responsibility in this country, and opens the Japanese company Kyocera (which licences iBurst technology) to charges that its products have been used to conduct totally illegal medical and psychological experiments on South African citizens, in contravention of both South African constitutional law and international binding agreements. In this respect WBS/iBurst stands accused of bringing South African business into severe contempt of international laws and treaties, and exposing itself and associated multinational companies to prosecution in international courts of justice for severe violations of the human rights of South African citizens.
23. I therefore call on the prosecuting authorities to make a proper investigation of this case, and specifically the role of Mr Jannie van Zyl in violating the law, covering it up, and violating the human rights, health and wellbeing of South African citizens and residents.
Mr Karl Mosupatsela Muller
BSc (Hons), Med, Post-Grad Cert Ed
SA ID 570205 5896 08 4
Postnet Suite 23
Private Bag X9
Fax: (011) 482-5419 (Marked: Attention Suite 23)
I hand-delivered the complete police file to our industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), on April 30, 2010. I showed a person from their Compliance department the document where iBurst claim their reason for disobeying all the planning regulations was that Icasa licence conditions “compelled” them to do this. He had the grace to burst out loud laughing, and said this was total nonsense. I am told an investigation is under way at Icasa.
This was my covering letter to Icasa:
Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
April 29, 2010
Illegal Activities, Breach of Licence Conditions: Wireless Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd
Attached please find the founding affidavit and supporting evidence for a criminal case which I have opened with the SA Police Service against Wireless Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd (“WBS”), also known as “iBurst”.
This case is registered at Linden Police Station in Johannesburg as docket number 853/04/2010.
You will see that WBS admit in writing to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) that they have erected a number of telecommunications masts illegally, and illegally commenced with radiation from these masts.
You will see that the excuse they give is that Icasa licence conditions “compelled” them to break the law and erect these structures totally illegally. To the best of my knowledge, Icasa’s licence conditions state that the licence holder must obey the planning regulations and the other laws of the land, and therefore WBS’s excuse is totally invalid. In addition to commencing activities illegally, it will be seen that WBS has lied repeatedly to the media regarding these illegal structures. This is a serious criminal offence under the Companies Act 2008. In all of this, WBS has without doubt by its own admission broken the law and thus violated its licence conditions. I therefore ask Icasa to investigate this situation with all urgency, and cancel WBS’s licence if it has been found that it willfully broke the law in setting up its network.
I also give evidence that WBS deliberately and maliciously violated the rights of residents of the Johannesburg suburb of Craigavon by conducting a totally uncontrolled, totally unwanted “experiment” on their health with microwave radiation. You will see this is a serious violation both of the Bill of Rights of the SA Constitution, which expressly forbids any medical or scientific experiment to be carried out on people without their informed consent, as well as the Nuremburg Treaty, an international binding agreement on countries not to allow such experiments on people without their informed consent. This “experiment” was explicitly carried out by the chief executive officer of WBS, Mr Jannie van Zyl, and I believe Icasa should severely censure and prosecute both WBS and Mr van Zyl for this outrageous violation of the human rights of SA citizens and residents, including small children.
You will see that WBS in its application for “rectification” of its illegal masts (which apparently number at least 50, making this a significant part of its network) states that it has a “constitutional” right to put up masts and radiate people. I would like an opinion from Icasa as to whether there is any justification for this claim. I cannot find any such right enshrined anywhere in the Constitution. On the contrary, I can find several rights (including the right to privacy, the right to bodily and psychological integrity, and the right to have our children protected) which are violated by this and other wireless operators on a daily basis. I believe that Icasa should consider the rights of citizens in this regard when it issues its licences.
I will point out further that all justification for the radiation of South Africans from telecoms masts is placed on the World Health Organisation. When queried by the European Parliament, the WHO stated that it would release its preliminary findings on cellphone radiation and the general public in 2015. It further stated that it had only started looking at the effects of this radiation on children in 2009, and would report on this issue in the distant future. This means that the population of the world is being used in a vast experimental trial by the WHO. There is no question about this. Therefore citizens have the right – under the SA Constitution, and under the Nuremburg Treaty – to refuse to participate in this experiment and refuse to have a microwave mast erected anywhere near where they live or work. I would like Icasa to provide a researched opinion on this matter. I would be happy to provide full information backing up all these claims if required.
Mr Karl Mosupatsela Muller
Let’s see what happens next.
All the best