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
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.