A library in Hermanus was torched by Zwelihle residents in a protest on Monday night.
Disgruntled Zwelihle residents in Hermanus have torched the area's only library after receiving information that the Overstrand municipality had opened charges of public violence against them.

This was after they had removed a fence which they said was aimed at segregating the neighbouring white community from the black community.

The municipality rubbished these claims yesterday.

Community leader Gcobani Ndzongana said: “What sparked the torching of the building that used to be a library was reports that the municipality had been trying to build up a case against me and other leaders, and they had just opened a case of public violence.

“Apparently I am inciting violence in the community, which is a lie.

‘‘The only sin I committed was being vocal and speaking against segregation between the white and black communities.

"I did not send people to burn the library. I was also surprised because in a meeting it was agreed we were going to write a letter to the municipality about our grievances,” Ndzongana said.

He said learners had been suffering for five months and the municipality did not fix the infrastructure to spite the community.

"The library was vandalised during a protest earlier this year.”

Municipal manager Coenie Groenewald said they strongly condemned the act of violence, and the only reason the building had not been fixed yet was because they were waiting for money.

“It is a pity that what serviced the same community is no more, and the perpetrators will be not be affected, but the youth who need it most will be.

"A criminal charge was opened against the chairperson of the community and a community leader after community members called and reported their act.

"It is rubbish that the purpose of the fence was to create segregation between two communities.

"Its purpose was to fence an area of a busy street, and we’re planning to create a safe facility for the youth, which would be a park or a community garden for the community to enjoy. Removing the fence was part of a bigger plan,” Groenewald said.

Police said circumstances surrounding the library fire were being investigated.