Three libraries in Nelson Mandela Bay will not be reopening under the alert level one lockdown regulations, due to vandalism.
Chatty Library in Ward 35, KwaMagxaki Library and Allanridge Library in Uitenhage, which were all recently vandalised, will remain closed until they have been fixed.
All libraries in the metro were closed shortly after the lockdown period was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year and were supposed to reopen under alert level one that commenced at the start of this week.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson, Mamela Ndamase, confirmed that these three libraries will only reopen once the damage has been repaired.
When asked about the time frame related to the repairs, Ndamase added that she was told only that the matter would be addressed.
“Corporate services are aware and have promised to address the issue,” she said.
PE Express previously reported about Chatty Library that had been vandalised twice in the last year, first in November 2019 and again earlier this month.
Vandals not only targeted the main area of the library where the books are kept, but also the kitchen and staff room.
The kitchen and inside doors were broken down, stationery taken and the air-conditioners and appliances stolen. Electrical cables were also ripped from the walls.
At the back of the facility, the metal wiring covering the windows was bent to gain access to the building and air-conditioners.
Allanridge Library was vandalised in May this year. The books, furniture, toilets and kitchen were all damaged.
Stolen items included the microwave, printer, vacuum cleaner, two TV sets, money from a safe, monitor, Vodacom router and DVD player.
Ward 48 Councillor, Tyrone Adams, said that Allanridge Library remaining closed for longer would have a huge negative impact on the surrounding communities that include Allanridge West and Joe Slovo, among others.
“These are some of the poorest areas in Uitenhage. Residents usually go to the library to read or search for jobs in the newspapers. All those benefits have been taken away from them due to vandalism committed by people who were just acting out of spite,” Adams said.
“After it was vandalised, it looked as though a bomb had exploded inside the building,” he added.
“This has made things so difficult for our learners who need to study. Now they have to study at home but there is no infrastructure at home because the library is surrounded by poor communities,” Adams said.
According to Adams, the police became aware of people living inside the Allanridge Hall, which is connected to the library building. “They gained access through the roof and police wanted someone to unlock the building so that they could make arrests.”
Ward 35 Councillor, Helga van Staaden, said that although Chatty library was not operational, staff had been going to work for two days a week, just to keep an eye on the building.
“The staff have started with a general clean-up. They have also fixed the burglar bars, replaced the door and reinstalled the gate that was sawn off,” Van Staaden said.
After talking to a senior staff member at the library, she added that the NMBM would be assessing the extent of the damage soon.
“The hands of staff are tied, but they are hopeful that the library will be fixed soon, especially since there are still places where vandals can regain entry to the building. Luckily, all municipal buildings are insured,” Van Staaden said.
“It is a pity that these libraries cannot reopen right away, especially at a stage where learners and students will need it the most.
“We are on the verge of matric exams and after the six months of lockdown, they are going to need all the learning materials and support that they can get. We are still fresh into the new financial year so I would assume that there is a budget for maintenance. The fixing and reopening of libraries should be a priority.”
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