The Retreat library has been closed until further notice after brazen thieves stole equipment and vandalised the facility.
The incident comes at an important time on the education calendar when many pupils, including Grade 12s, are writing their final exams.
The pupils use the libraries to study and acquire additional study material.
Burglars broke into the library on Sunday November 3, at about 7pm, and removed the network and security cables from the SmartCape computers in an attempt to take the central processing units, but couldn’t.
They also tried to remove the aluminium from a door but were unsuccessful. This still left damage to the door frame.
Four mini Smart computers were stolen as well as four computers and a monitor, a SmartCape monitor and printer totalling
R62 000 – the vandalism increased this amount to R138 000.
Fouwzia Ardien, a Grade 8 pupil, was at the library the day the Southern Mail visited, and said she felt disappointed that she was unable to study there.
“I come to the library to study because it is quieter than at home with my nephews and cousins running around. I also get more information and sometimes meet my friends for study groups which have been very helpful. I will have to go to a friend or go to Grassy Park library which will cost money,” she said.
Retreat resident David Klassen said security needs to be employed to safeguard facilities.
“Criminals are taking our children’s future for granted for a quick buck or high. I implore those people who do this to think about the consequences and think about those children who need the library to study and to learn for a better future and to get out of the circumstances they are in.
“More resources need to be deployed to facilities because there is only so much we can do as a community. We keep an eye out but these criminals strike when no one is watching,” said Mr Klassen.
Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the thieves broke in despite four layers of security: “Since a previous burglary, the stone guards were redone and additional strips of metal burglar bars fitted over the stone guards.”
He said thieves tried to take the facility’s safe but realised it was too heavy and keys were found on the floor possibly indicating an attempt to locate the safe key, which is not kept on the premises.
“Acts of theft and vandalism cripple our libraries in fulfilling their critical role in providing information and support for educa-
Dr Badroodien said since January there have been 58 claims for incidents at 30 City libraries, totalling nearly R578 000.
“This incident will take our claims close to a million rand, which is totally unacceptable. This is money which could have been spent on much-needed resources or other critical community services. Our libraries are also essential facilities for matric pupils who re-
quire space to study and access educational material. The impact and implications for those people depending on the facility for information and a place to study is far-reaching and goes way beyond the damage caused at the vandalised facility and the stolen equipment,,” said Mr Badroodien.
Steenberg police spokesperson, Sergeant Wesley Twigg, confirmed the burglary and said the case is being investigated.
“The library was locked on Saturday November 2, at noon, and when staff returned to work on Monday November 4, at about 8am, they found the exit door open. No arrests had been made, we are following up on all leads to bring the perpetrators to book.”
Anyone with any information about this incident can contact Steenberg SAPS on 021 702 9000 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
Report any suspicious behaviour to the City’s Public Emergency Communication
Centre by dialing 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.