A newly constructed library in Ritchie was set to be opened in September but, instead still remains locked and empty. Students are forced to use the library in Kimberley. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Kimberley - Ritchie residents have slammed the Sol Plaatje Municipality, saying that a brand new internet cafe, meant to uplift the community, is “just another expensive publicity stunt by the mayor”.

The internet cafe, launched about two months ago by Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, at the Ritchie SMME, is yet to be put to use.

It houses 10 computers in cubicles and was, according to the municipality, “opened with the intention of providing much needed services to the Ritchie community”.

“The area around the internet cafe will also serve as a Wi-Fi hot spot to allow the youth to access information, using their smartphones.

“The cafe has been activated with 10 computers. It will seek to assist school children with research and entrepreneurs to seek business opportunities. Entrepreneurs can also use the internet to access the Central Supplier Database and register their businesses. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to changing the lives of our impoverished communities and bringing back the dignity of our people,” Matika said at the time.

A newly constructed library in Ritchie was set to be opened in September but, instead still remains locked and empty. Picture: Danie van der Lith

However, a visit to the internet cafe this past weekend revealed that it is yet to be taken into use, as there is no connection to the internet yet.

At the cafe, only the photocopier is in use, with a security guard assisting members of the public with using the machine.

The 10 computers are yet to be used.

A group of students attending a learnership programme in one of the SMME classrooms, said that they believe that the internet cafe is “just a publicity stunt by the mayor” and that it will become “just another expensive white elephant”.

“The mayor came here and opened the internet cafe with much fanfare and made lots of promises, like that grass would be planted around the SMME and that the internet cafe would open in two weeks’ time.

“It is now almost two months later and nothing has happened, leading us to believe that everything was just empty promises, again,” the students said.

They added that they could not do research, write CVs or apply online for jobs, as despite having the facilities at the internet cafe they could not make use of them.

“The internet cafe is just gathering dust, while we have to use our own data and phones to do research and get information for assignments,” the students said.

“The Sol Plaatje Municipality has again failed us, as is the case with the newly constructed library in Ritchie, which has also been standing empty and locked for several months. We were promised that the library would open in September but until now, no word from anyone.”

They added that students and pupils had to travel to Kimberley if they wanted to access a library.

“What is the use use of a library if it contains no books, and is just an (expensive) empty shell?” they asked.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, while not being able to give much information about the anticipated opening date of the library, saying that it was a “provincial competency”, added that the opening of the internet cafe was a being handled as a “matter of urgency” by the municipality.

He denied that there was not an internet connection, but said that the municipality was still addressing “staffing matters” and was about to appoint a supervisor for the cafe, after which it would become fully functional.

Matsie would, however, not speculate about a date for the opening.

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