Community leaders in Browns Farms in Philippi say they feel their library is under siege after two armed criminals robbed the library of office equipment and staff and patrons of their cellphones last month.
The library has been closed since the robbery on Saturday April 29. Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Patricia van der Ross, said the department is currently busy with a risk assessment and they plan to reopen on Thursday June 1.
Chairperson of community policing forum (CPF) in Browns Farm, Anele Madondile, said two armed men entered the library and robbed everyone inside.
He said this was the second time that the library was robbed this year.
He said shortly before this incident, criminals broke into the library at night and took all its office equipment. They then returned in broad daylight to rob staff and patrons.
Mr Madondile said there is a night security guard but he is not armed and there is little that he could do to stop such robberies.
“This is extremely sad because this means that our children will no longer be able to access the services which are being provided by the library. Our children now have to walk to other communities to access such services yet there is a library in their community.
“We are really sad about this. We have not really engaged with the City because we wanted to give them time to assess this situation and also the trauma that their staff might have been experiencing.
“We had faced a similar situation before where our clinic was under attack and we took a decision to deploy neighbourhood watch members but the reality is that they are not getting paid,” he said.
However, he called on the community to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that our communities are safe. But in the same breath, he said residents do not fully trust the police and at times were unwilling to share information with them for safety reasons.
He hoped that a solution would be found soon so that their children could make use of the services provided by the library.
Ms Van der Ross said additional security guards will be deployed and the department plans to secure the facility.
SAPS provincial media centre liaison officer, sergeant Wesley Twigg said the case is still under investigation.