The Constitutional Court has ordered MTN to remove a 5m cellphone mast disguised as a chimney and described as ‘visually intrusive’ in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia.

But the victory was lengthy and costly, according to the Sunday Times, costing residents about R2.5m – some of which they will get back thanks to a costs award – and taking seven years.

MTN asked the residents in 2012 for permission to upgrade its 2G antenna to 3G, but it turned out the new mast had not been authorised by the City of Cape Town.

The residents said MTN had duped them into giving the mast the go-ahead. They sued MTN and landowner Alphen Farm Estate after the mast was erected in 2013. Vincent Murphy led neighbouring sectional title owners to the Western Cape High Court in 2015 and won.

MTN took the judgment on appeal to the SCA, which overturned it, but the residents took the fight to the Constitutional Court, which handed them victory last week.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

Spilhaus Property Holdings (Pty) Limited and Others v MTN and Another