South Africa: No Internet for Over a Year At Lwandle Public Library

City says cable theft and "excessively high" costs of 3G data are to blame

For over a year, computers for public access at the Hector Peterson* Memorial Library in Lwandle, Strand, have not been operating.

The computers were an important resource for learners from three high schools and five primary schools in the area. Learners, as young as 13, now walk over five kilometres, crossing a railway line, or pay R11 taxi fare to go to Somerset Library and Strand Library.

Resident Zolile Witbooi said they have reported the problem countless times to the Cape Town municipality. He said the library is also too small for the community.

The library has five computers for the public. It has no wifi option for people's smartphones and laptops, unlike the Somerset West and Strand libraries.

A librarian who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "There are unemployed people who come here and students who wish to apply for tertiary [education]. We turn them all away because the computers are off. The library is small and needs to be extended. It is in a big yard, but the City is not willing to extend it."

Without an internet connection the computers are all but useless. The operating software requires an internet login.

Mayco Member for Community Services Councillor Zahid Badroodien said: "The Telkom line providing internet access for SmartCape computers [City run computers] was stolen. Due to continuous cable theft in the area, Telkom advised that they will not reinstate services, and this forced the City to look at an alternative solution, such as upgrading a radio connection to allow the SmartCape services to be added to it."

"Regrettably there is no other short term solution available due to the excessive-high data costs associated with 3G, and ongoing vandalism and theft of infrastructure. Due to financial constraints, no extensions [of the library] are on the cards for the near future."

*The sign board at the library, the Western Cape government listing and the official email address for the library has this spelling of the name. The correct spelling is: Hector Pietersen (who was killed in the Soweto uprising).

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