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CELLULAR network giant MTN has bowed to public pressure and reneged on its plan to pay an aerial rental fee to a Mpumalanga chief instead of to a local school.
This follows a public outcry after MTN announced that the R2 000 monthly rental fee of its antenna in the yard of Dikgabo Combined School would be paid to a local chief and not to the school as initially agreed.
The school, together with angry community members, threatened to block the cellphone company from erecting an antenna in the school yard.
But MTN SA group executive Mzolisa Masiza told Sowetan yesterday that they were still reviewing their decision.
"We are going back to the drawing board on this one," he said.
"Even if it means getting political intervention, we will, so that we don't appear to be favouring one party over the other."
Masiza also revealed that he had had a meeting with Deputy Communications Minister Dina Pule for "guidance" on the matter and that he would soon decide on a way forward.
In 2007, MTN asked the management of Dikgabo Combined School at Lefiso village near Marapyane to put up an aerial tower in the school yard.
But a tug-of-war started when Kgosi Tlhame Moepi of Bakgatla Ba Mocha claimed the rent because the school was "on my soil".
MTN then broke its promise to pay the money to the school and decided to pay the tribal authority in monthly instalments of R2000.
After the MTN announcement, the school principal, William Kgarabyae, threatened to block the tower being placed on the school premises.
He also threatened to take the matter to the constitutional court if "I am pushed".
Reacting to the latest turn of events, Kgarabyae said:
"That's wonderful. We hope MTN realises just how far this money will go to improving the conditions of our poor school."