Cable theft and vandalism have pulled the plug on plans to upgrade computers at libraries across the city, including Hanover Park, Heideveld, Manenberg, and Bonteheuwel.
Money meant for the planned upgrades to the SmartCape computers at 14 libraries must now be used to fix and replace what criminals have broken and stolen, says a City official.
The repeated cable theft at Lwandle library in Strand over the past few weeks had left library users without access to the free computer service for more than a year, said mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien.
“The Library and Information Service is trying to find alternative means of securing internet connectivity through a partnership with the City’s Information Services and Technology Department, but in many cases we rely on third-party service providers like Telkom who are also grappling with continued theft to the point of not wanting to replace stolen infrastructure in some cases,” said Mr Badroodien.
Telkom had refused to restore cables at certain libraries due to on-going theft, he said.
The City received 123 additional computers from the Western Cape Provincial Library Services to be installed at 22 libraries but the installation at 14 libraries including in Hanover Park, Grassy Park, Retreat, Rocklands, Nyanga, Heideveld, Manenberg, Scottsdene, Belhar, Lwandle, Mfuleni, Adriaanse, Bonteheuwel and Tafelsig will be delayed due to cable theft issues.
Since the start of the year, there had been 58 insurance claims for incidents at 30 libraries, totalling nearly R578 000, Mr Badroodien said.
That money could have been spent on more computers, reading material, or other critical community services, he said.
“We want to upgrade our computers to use a faster internet provider but now we cannot as those funds have to be relocated to replace existing infrastructure.”
Bontheuewel youth leader Nurjehaan Schroeder said that with more computers students would be able to finish their projects in one day and not have to return the next day.
“Because there are limited computers we have to wait for a long time in the queue to use the computers and then only have 45 minutes to use it and you can’t use it again that day, so if you have a big task it really becomes a problem so if we had more computers would help a lot,” she said.
Yumna Alexander, who teaches computer skills to Manenberg library users, said that with only six computers she couldn’t reach the number of people she hoped to.
“If we could get more computers, it would be great. Then we can help more people. It would be amazing because our list is so long until February as I can only do 12 people a month. We really need more computers.”
You can report suspicious behaviour to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre on 021 480 7700.