Cape Town - 180404 - John Nicholson, the founder of a community library in Hill View, Lavender Hill, called, "Siyafunda" which means "we are reading" in Zulu, has been informed that he has to remove his library structure because he does not have a building plan of face a hefty fine. In pic, Nicholson inspects his leaking roof of the library - Reporter - - Photographer - Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - Over 4 000 people have responded to South African hero John Nicholson’s story on the closure of his library after the City of Cape Town cautioned that he remove the roof or face a penalty.

Help has come from as far as Australia and Wales and from musicians, authors, organisations and architects back home.

On Monday four architects will visit Nicholson’s home and take measurements to resubmit a plan to the City of Cape Town for a new roof.

Since the story was published on Thursday, The Daily Voice and Nicholson have been inundated with calls, text messages, Facebook comments, Tweets and emails, everyone offering to help.

Nicholson contacted the publication and said that he was ordered by the City of Cape Town to remove the metal sheeting of his roof of his garage which makes up his library in Hillview, Lavender Hill or face a penalty.

Nicholson said he was told he could pay a R30 000 fine if he did not remove the roof.

The whole saga kicked off a few weeks ago when Nicholson and wife, who has been serving the community for 15 years, was approached by a sponsor, Jean Williams of Biblionef SA.

Nicholson was appealing for assistance to replace the metal sheeting on his roof which was leaking inside his library.

But when Nicholson and Williams approached the City, they learnt that there was no plan for the new structure built.

Nicholson was then advised to remove the entire roof or face the consequences.

Also read: City of Cape Town shuts down hero’s backyard library

His 12 000 books were placed into storage thanks to Biblionef SA. Shelving in the library was also removed and the holiday programme and the daily routine where John and his family teaches children to read and assist with their homework was stopped.

Nicholson then said to speak to Williams.

When the newspaper contacted Williams on April 4, she threatened to pull sponsorship if the story was published.

On Friday, Nicholson told the Daily Voice he was overjoyed by the response from the public.

He also took to Facebook saying: “Good Morning All. As You can see I'm still smiling after all the drama yesterday.

“The most beautiful story in the Voice was printed yesterday.

“A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who uplifted me from Wales.London.Australia.South Africa. God Bless everyone.

“Our Library is here to stay. We have been doing this voluntary for 16 years. No one is going to stop something God has started. Read James 2v14. Then You will see why we do what we do. Love must be shared.”


Nicholson indicates that Williams is not part of the organisation and that she is a donor who has stored his books and was present during a meeting with the City in March.

He says no city official has contacted him or visited his library to date. 

A reader who asked to remain anonymous has offered to draft new plans, submit to the council for free.

Biker Bernie Galant and fellow bikers have also taken on the task to help John including another organisation called Read and architects around the City.

Local artist, Granville Michaels also vowed to help Nicholson by raising funds via a benefit concert.

“Four men will be visiting the library on Monday and they will be making plans and said they will submit without the sponsor in question.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area South, Eddie Andrews, as part of their statement said last week that John would face a penalty if he did not remove the roof structure which had no plan. 

The City issued a new statement on Friday saying that it had not given instruction for library to be shut down.

"I can confirm that the City’s Development Management Department did not give an instruction, nor serve a notice on the property owner, John Nicholson, to shut down the library that he has been operating from his garage in Lavender Hill," Andrews said.

Read more: City of Cape Town says it did not shut down ‘garage’ library

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