What was meant to be a joyous occasion for the Kuyasa community, quickly turned into chaos when some angry residents disrupted the official opening of the R78 million state-of-the-art Kuyasa regional library. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who was meant to officate at the ceremony, was forced to leave the event.
Angry residents said they had not been informed about the opening of the library and criticised the City of Cape Town for building the library in Makhaza, and not in Kuyasa even though it is named after their community.
Community leader, Khanyisa Masethe, said they only heard about the opening of the library, through word of mouth, a day before the event. She added that it was clear that this library was never meant for them.
“We call on the City to change the name of it from Kuyasa to something else because it does not represent our community and we are not happy about the proceedings of the event,” she said.
Matters escalated when a fuming pastor Khaya Maseko, of the Salvation Church of the Revival Faith, warned authorities not to hijack the event for political gains.
“I thought I came here to celebrate the opening of the library with the residents, but why are pupils and residents side-lined from this event if this event is for them?”
Residents applauded the pastor, chanting “Thina bantu base Kuyasa asinalo ithala lencwadi”.
Another Kuyasa resident, Athenkosi Nkampule, warned they were not happy about the location of the library.
Mr Nkampule said during the construction of the library residents of Kuyasa had not benefited even though the City claimed that the library was for them.
“I found it astonishing that the library was opened weeks ago while it was still under construction. The books are lacking at this library and also the relationship between the staff and the community is not vibrant,” he said.
He added that there had been many disruptions during the construction of the library, due to political conflicts among political parties.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, however, refuted the clams that the community had not been informed about the event.
Ms Nicholson said the community had been at the venue and that no one had been side-lined.
She added that the City tried to ensure that the event was as inclusive as possible. “Community structures like the Khayelitsha Development Forum, ward councillors and the sub-council have for a number of weeks been aware of the event, hence they were among the speakers.
“The programme included activities for the community outside the library. The space inside the library was limited hence the speeches were done on the balcony,” she said.
Ms Nicholson added that the library was supposed to have been opened in mid-2014, but had been delayed numerous times. She attributed the delays to infighting between ANC councillors after the ward boundaries were shifted in the last by-elections.
This, she said, is what resulted in the Kuyasa regional library site being located in Ward 97, instead of Ward 95.
Ms De Lille said the Kuyasa library would contribute greatly towards making the Kuyasa station precinct an attractive, vibrant and safe urban node and that the multifunctional building, which now houses the library, will also accommodate Sub-council 24 offices and retail space.
“The library boasts 35 SmartCape computers with free internet access. I encourage residents, in particular pupils, to visit the library and enhance their knowledge.
“The building incorporates environmental sustainable features such as photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof to reduce grid reliance,” she said.
Wardcouncillor RyderMkhutswana appealed to angry residents not to destroy the building. “I will make sure that this library is not destroyed and I urge you to use proper channels to voice your concerns.
“This building is meant to uplift this community and provide a better future for your children,” he said.
Representing the Carnegie Corporation of New York Deana Arsenian, said they had been building libraries all over the world. Ms Arsenian said they aim to improve literacy around the world and power the future generation with knowledge. “We want the children to be self-sufficient. Without books the world is crippled and knowledge is at a standstill therefore it is crucial to have a library in every township,” she said.
Makhaza resident, Cwayita Mavuso, said she is thrilled that a library has been opened in the area and that their children will no longer have to go to Harare library to seek information. She added she will encourage her children to visit the library frequently .“We as adults need to come here to expand our knowledge and show our children that the library is not for them only,” she said.