Image via: @CityofCT / Twitter
Image via: @CityofCT / Twitter
The City of Cape Town is offering a reward to catch vandals who are destroying and stealing equipment from libraries around the city. A number of break-ins, acts of vandalism and targeting of security staff has been reported in recent weeks. Criminals reportedly targeted at least seven libraries which will cost more than R100 000 to repair.
Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, said continued vandalism limits access to safe study spaces.
“The continued theft and vandalism at our libraries is worrying as criminals show no respect for their community and municipal services. Vandalism has a domino effect as it could take months to repair the damage and to get all the services back in operation. While final damage assessments are still pending, initial estimates point to losses of more than R100 000,” said Badroodien.
At the Delft South Library, thieves stole burglar bars as well as library signage. In addition, damage was caused to the outer walls of the facility and the air conditioning system was stolen.
Thieves also stole the air conditioning unit at the Lwandle library, which required replacement and installation repair work of more than R20 000.
The Macassar Library’s entire fence and barbed wire was stolen with the replacement cost standing at R72 000 where as Retreat Library experienced several break-in this year. A security guard was stabbed at Retreat Library during one of the incidents on 13 February.
The Suider Strand Library burned to the ground at the end of February 2021. Criminal activity did not stop there with robbers returning on 15 March, keeping the security officers hostage for 45 minutes. An insurance payment amounted to R14.5 million which included the building, library materials and furniture.
Weltevreden Library’s windows were smashed, its burglar bars removed and a desktop valued at R7 000 stolen. The final damage assessment is yet to be submitted.
The Wynberg Library was targeted on two separate locations last week when thieves gained access through a window and stole a number of small items.
Badroodien added that vandalism of libraries goes much further than the criminal offence of destruction of council property or breaking and entering.
“It has a far reaching effect, as some libraries that experience vandalism or break-ins need to be closed to the public depending on the nature of the damage, and could take months before being re-opened.”
“We have also seen some instances where libraries were vandalised for no apparent reason – where nothing was stolen. It does not make sense to break down a facility that provides important services to the community. We would like to once again request our communities and Neighbourhood Watches to be on the lookout for any suspicious behaviour at community libraries and to report it immediately,” he added.
The City is offering a R5 000 reward for information that leads to the successful arrest or conviction of perpetrators.
“Criminals will continue their senseless acts of destruction until they are brought to book. The vandals live in the very communities that they are stripping bare, and they will not stop until they are held accountable for their actions. We need the community to help identify these culprits and save our precious resources,” added Badroodien.
READ: Attacks on Cape Town’s libraries have ‘spiralled out of control’