By Loushe Jordaan
Authorities have denied media reports that it closed a make shift library in Lavender Hill, instead claiming that it has attempted to assist the property owner with his compliance. John Nicholson, a resident from Lavender Hill made headlines in his community for his library project, Siyafunda, established 15 years ago. According to reports, Nicholson was forced to shut down his library because he did not have a building plan for the garage. It is alleged that Nicolson was approached by a possible sponsor to assist with repairs of his garage, but when they contacted the City of Cape Town for a new plan for their property, they were told the garage was built illegally and that it should be shut down within 14 days.
According to Mayoral Committee Member for Area South, City of Cape Town, Councillor Eddie Andrews, the City’s Development Management Department did not give an instruction, nor serve a notice on the property owner to shut down the library that he has been operating from his garage in Lavender Hill.
“The city did not close down the library. It was closed down by Mr Nicolson and the NPO partner to make room for repairs of the leaking roof,” said Andrews.
Officials from the City’s Development Management Department investigated this claim since it was brought to their attention by the Daily Voice newspaper on Wednesday 4 April 2018. In a written response to the Daily Voice, the City stated that the allegation of an administrative penalty was not determined. He said the allegation of a R30 000 ‘penalty’ being imposed by the City is “not true”.
Andrews said as of today, arrangements are underway to accommodate the children, who are part of the library initiative, at a nearby church, where they will have access to two trunks of books. The remaining books are currently being stored at Bibilonef.
“We welcome and appreciate initiatives by residents who are contributing to the wellbeing of their communities. As such, we are appreciative of Mr John Nicholson’s efforts in establishing the library, and we are doing all we can to assist from our side to ensure that the building complies with the National Building Regulations and Municipal Planning By-law,” said Andrews.
When asked if there was any communication between the City and Mr Nicolson, Andrews said that due to work obligations, he has not been able to meet him, however when he returns to Cape Town later this week, he will personally go to Mr Nicolson to provide more clarity.
Mr Nicolson was unable to comment. VOC