DURBAN - Government officials were on Tuesday still taking stock of the damage to infrastructure and buildings in the province during the recent looting and unrest.
A mosque in Cato Manor and seven libraries in eThekwini were among the buildings torched and damaged.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Mandla Nsele said the libraries included Reservoir Hills, which was burnt down completely, while KwaMashu library was looted and one of the worst vandalised.
Libraries in KwaDabeka and Dassenhoek, Ntuzuma and Montlands were vandalised and looted, uMlazi AA was vandalised and its computers stolen.
“The City is assessing the libraries. Our priority is to secure the spaces and conduct clean-ups.”
Ward 23 PR councillor Sagar Singh said it could take more than six months to get the libraries up and running again. “The Reservoir Hills library is at the Reservoir Hills mall. It was heartbreaking for the librarians to see their chairs at the informal settlement. The community depended on the library services, such as internet facilities or computer access. What a loss of such a valuable resource centre,” Singh said.
Reservoir Hills Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Ish Prahladh said the library was used by all race groups. Ratepayers were concerned that they had pushed for years to have a fully equipped library, he said. With budget cuts he wondered if it would ever open again.
Prahladh said the opening of schools on Monday was a big concern.
“Why did the looters burn something educational? It benefited the informal housing sector immensely with computer access and educational material. It allowed the children to study. There is no other library in the vicinity.”
The Ahmedia Lockhat Mosque in Cato Manor was the only religious site reported to have been damaged by fire. The mosque was built in 1942.
Bassa’s hardware store attached to the mosque was looted and torched. The fire spread into the mosque prayer area causing extensive damage. Trustee Abdul Kader Lockhat said mosque assistants worked tirelessly to clean up, re-paint and open the mosque for Eid prayers on Wednesday.
In an adjoining building, the former Ahmed State-Aided School built in 1949, but recently occupied by Bassa’s Supermarket and Hardware, was also looted. Lockhat said five classrooms used for Islamic studies were damaged. One of the classrooms catered for sewing classes in conjunction with Crescent of Hope organisation. More than 20 sewing machines were destroyed by the fire, as was the room.
Community leader Nsimbi Majola said the looters were not from the area. “We are shocked. Criminals have destroyed this church (mosque).”