For three months now, the computers at Hector Petersen Library in Lwandle, which caters for more than 10 schools, have been dormant, a situation that has also deprived residents of computer use.
Those without internet at home presently take the long walk to Somerset West Library, about 6 km away. “We walk in groups so that we can be safe,” said Azole Mnyungula, a Grade 9 learner at Khanyolwethu Secondary School.
“It is easier when we go, but scary when we come back because it is late. But we do not really have much of a choice. There is no WiFi, even for those with smartphones.”
Her mother, Nosandiso, says when she can she walks with her daughter to Somerset West.
“I cannot afford to buy her data every time and she likes searching the internet,” she says.
“Most of the group are girls, and whenever they leave I pray that they come back unharmed. The municipality is failing our children and putting them at risk.”
The network cables in the library were stolen, which resulted in the system being switched off as the computers require internet access.
Andrew Arnolds, recently elected EFF provincial chairperson, says this is unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable that we have a public facility that doesn’t have computers in use,” he says.
“Three months is way too long. I will contact the municipality to find out why it has taken so long to replace the cables.”
Anda Ntsodo, Mayoral Committee member for Area East, had no answer as to why it has taken so long to replace the stolen cables. “The City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Service reports that the computers are offline because the cables were stolen for the third time,” he explains.
“The City is investigating alternative measures for connectivity. In addition, the library will receive six more computers towards the end of October to complement the five already in operation.”
Library manager Mzukisi Njabatwa said: “The unavailability of the most needed resource in the area is a great concern for me as well. When we will be back online, I cannot say as the IT department has not indicated when the library’s computers will be reconnected.”