South Africa: Youth Picket, Demand Library Be Opened As Government Promised

The R23-million Lehae Library was meant to open in 2018

In January, Johannesburg City spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane told GroundUp that residents could expect to use the Lehae Library by 1 April. To the bitter disappointment of the community, especially many young people, that date came and went and the library, surrounded by overgrown grass, is still closed.

Expectations were raised when construction started on the R23-million facility in 2015. It was supposed to open by 2018.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the City have blamed each other for the delays.

Last weekend, youths picketed outside the gates of the structure demanding the library be immediately opened.

Matshidiso Mokoena, youth member from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Youth Club, said they worry that if left standing much longer, the library will be vandalised, as this is what happened to their local taxi rank.

Mokoena said they need a place to do homework.

Asked why the library had not opened as promised, Modingoane said that the facility is set to be handed over to the City's Community Development Department before the end of the financial year.

"After the handover, the department will be in a position to confirm the date for the opening of the facility in consultation with all the stakeholders," said Modingoane.

He said there had been extensive storm damage to the electricity supply earlier in the year. "This has led to further delays as we could not test and commission the Electrical and Mechanical Components and get Certificate of Occupation," he said.

Modingoane said City Power has only attended to the problem this month.

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