Ongoing cable theft and vandalism at libraries are severely hampering the City of Cape Town’s efforts to allow learners, jobseekers, entrepreneurs and the public access to the digital space through the complimentary SmartCape service.
The service offers free internet access at various libraries to registered users.
In the last instance, cable theft left users without access to the service for more than a year in Lwandle.
Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien says 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,” Badroodien says.
Despite these challenges, the City continues to increase SmartCape access at libraries. “We have received 123 additional computers from the Western Cape provincial library services for installation at 22 of our libraries. However, the installation at 14 libraries was delayed as a result of either vandalism or theft.
Libraries are also battling other forms of vandalism and theft. According to Badroodien, since January, there were 58 insurance claims for incidents at 30 libraries, totalling nearly R578 000. Badroodien says the City calls on communities for help by reporting any theft.