Library vandalism hits learners hard in Philippi

Brown’s Farm library may be closed for a year

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The Brown’s Farm library in Cape Town has been closed since last August when it was broken into and badly damaged. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

The library in Brown’s Farm, Philippi, in Cape Town, has been closed for seven months after it was vandalised, and may not be open again for another five months, leaving tens of thousands of users in the lurch.

The library, the only one in the area, was attacked on 7 August. Criminals stole and damaged books, computers and other appliances, broke windows and doors. Fifteen computers were lost. City of Cape Town spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said it would cost R4-million to fix the library and the money had not been budgeted in the current financial year.

He said repairs would only start in the financial year starting July 2024. For now, patrons have to walk about 3km or pay a R20 return taxi trip to the nearest libraries, in Crossroads or Weltevreden Valley.

According to Tyhalibongo, nearly 60,000 people visited the library last year. More than 13,500 books were borrowed and more than 3,747 people used the computers.

Thamsanqa Masiza, a Grade 12 learner at a nearby school, said the thieves have robbed learners of access to a scarce resource.

“Vandalism of community assets should be harshly punished because it is the community that suffers,” he said. “Currently we are finding it difficult to study and access the internet because most of us learners don’t have the money to pay for an internet cafe.”

Another library user, Mnqobi Maluleke, said the library had been vandalised many times and the authorities “must be fed up with fixing it”.

“But that is not our fault as library users,” he said. “We love this facility and it is helping us.”

Maluleke said if the library had been in a more affluent area it would have been fixed much faster. “The nearest library is far, and it is unsafe travelling to other areas and learners don’t have transport money to and from those areas,” he said.

The Khayelitsha library is also closed, after a fire on 1 February. Other libraries in the city, including the Bellville library which was broken into five times last year, are operating.

TOPICS:  Crime Education

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