Shortly after closing for a R2.5 million upgrade (“Library closed for upgrade,” Northern News, October 26) the Eikendal Library was burgled twice in one weekend.
Burglars first struck on Friday night/Saturday morning (November 4 and 5), after they gained access by kicking in a door and removing a burglar bar from a security door.
Motion sensors were triggered in a central control room, and law enforcement officers who rushed to the library discovered two hard-drives missing.
In their haste to get out, thieves had dropped the flat-screen television.
But while security guards were posted at the library until the damaged door could be replaced, the thieves returned to the library at 1.45am on the Monday morning.
They held the two security officers at gunpoint and continued to remove items, taking personal computers.
They also destroyed a radio and vandalised the library.
Anda Ntsodo, mayoral committee member for community services said: “We condemn this blatant disregard for community facilities, which offer safe spaces for vulnerable residents, in the strongest terms.
“Repairing damage to City facilities costs us millions of rands each year; money that could have been spent on developing much-needed library facilities in under-served areas.”
The library offers space for needy latch-key children during the week and also holds a well-attended annual reading competiton.
Members of the Kraaifontein community also make extensive use of the online and print resources.
Mr Ntsodo said: “These thieves are not only stealing equipment, but they are robbing our children of a safe space to learn, study, grow and socialise.
“The upgrades to the Eikendal library will take until the middle of next year to complete. There are increasing demands on the City’s community services directorate to provide more safe recreational spaces, so to extend the budget to cover this crime is going to be tough.”
He added: “Budget constraints means the City cannot provide security guards around the clock at all of our libraries.
“The library and information services department spent R15.7 million during the 2015/2016 financial year on security, of which R108 000 can be directly attributed to insurance-related matters.
“I would like to encourage residents to be our eyes and ears and to take ownership of these facilities, which ultimately belong to them. We appeal to our patrons to please bear with us.”
The City has also appealed to nearby residents to use other library facilities in Kraaifontein and Scottsdene during the upgrade.