Cape Town – The staff and library users of Gugulethu Library were traumatised after it was ransacked by a group of attackers on Tuesday.
A group of attackers stormed the facility during the day and vandalised computer equipment, windows, and doors. The staff and patrons of the Library were also threatened.
“It appears that the incident was linked to protest action in the area, and, while staff and patrons were not physically hurt, they have been left traumatised by the ordeal,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
“I appeal to anyone in the community who knows anything about this incident to please approach the police or the City’s enforcement agencies so that we can hold those responsible to account for their actions,” said Alderman Smith.
It is believed that the group intended to set fire to the building as the authorities found some type of accelerant outside.
“Some of our libraries are under siege with thieves stealing anything of value that they can lay their hands on, from air-conditioning units to computers. There is also malicious damage to property targeting doors, windows and ceilings and, frankly, we are appalled,” said Alderman Smith.
Alderman Smith added that the City was working very hard to modernise the libraries and stay apace with technology for the benefit of users.
“Our SmartCape facilities are crucial to learners who need to conduct research for projects and assignments, but also to job seekers and entrepreneurs,” said Alderman Smith.
“To deprive people of these opportunities through cable theft or vandalism and even the theft of desktop computers is nothing short of callous.”
The Library and Information Service has already submitted 110 insurance claims in the current financial year valued at R1 247 864,44, which was three times higher than the 58 claims submitted in the previous financial year for R377 394,13.
According to the City, some of the measures implemented to negate the risk of theft or vandalism include perimeter lighting, installation of burglar bars and tinted windows, alarm systems and additional beams and sensors at potential entry points like ceilings and courtyards.