This irrational behavior was brought
into sharp focus by the residents of Craigavon, South Africa.
On August 12, 2009, a new iBurst (or HC-SDMA, High Capacity Spatial
Division Multiple Access) tower in the city's Fourways Memorial
Park. IBurst is a high speed wireless broadband technology,
commonly used in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere to
bring fast wireless internet to USB modems.
Shortly after the
tower was turned on, residents began to complain that they were
suddenly afflicted with severe health issues according
to MyBroadband. Describes Tracey-Lee Dorny, one of
the supposed victims, "Several rash cases were presented in
person and by photos from people who could not attend [a meeting with
iBurst]. Headaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins,
gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns, especially
with some of the children, were some of the issues presented by the
Residents recruited the legal services of
legal firm Bezuidenhout, Van Zyl and Associates to sue iBurst.
They complained that their symptoms resided within a day of leaving
the town, and they demanded the tower be permanently removed.
iBurst did something clever. It secretly turned off the tower
near the end of September. The residents didn't know this,
though, when they came to a meeting with iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl in
mid-November. They claimed that their symptoms took hours to
subside, but would return shortly after they came back to the town.
They said that certain skin conditions took a while longer -- as long
as 6 weeks -- to fully recover. They also said that their
afflictions still were ongoing.
Then Mr. Zyl revealed to them
that they had been tricked. He explains, "At the meeting
in mid-November residents claimed that full recovery of skin
conditions could take as long as 6 weeks. Yet, the tower was switched
off for more than 6 weeks by this time. At this point it became
apparent that the tower can, in no way, be the cause of the symptoms,
as it was already switched off for many weeks, yet the residents
still saw symptoms that come and go according to their proximity to
At this point it seems almost certain that the
symptoms are indicative of some other local heath risk, such as
contaminated drinking water. However, the tower is obviously
not to blame. Mr. Zyl lauds the safety of iBurst, adding, "Radiation levels
emitted by the tower were ten thousand times LESS than the
international safety standards set for mobile towers and that the
radiation at this site was in fact the same level as that already
present from cellular phone towers in the area."
being caught in a fallacy, the residents' hatred of the
broadband service burns on. Their lawyer states that the
medical complaints were "only the beginning" of a much
larger complaint against iBurst.
The truly curious part is that in their fervor to
destroy the local iBurst tower, the residents seem to have given up
on any effort to find the true reason why they are suffering from
strange health afflictions. Log this one in the annals of
irrational fear of radio waves.