27 February 2008

Libraries in a state

Last year, Gauteng province only used 5,3% of its budget for public library service improvements. The Eastern Cape province used R29 000 of its R22 million budget and the Western Cape province only 23,7%. These figures were shown in the presentation to Parliament's standing committee on finances. The nine provinces received R180 million, spread over three years, last year to improve library services. The provinces have already received half of their funds and had to spend it on infrastructure and buying new books.

Last month, Brakpan's library closed down due to the neglected state of its 70-year-old building. Following heavy rain, parts of the building were flooded and the electrical wiring damaged. The library's ceiling ad caved in in 2006, and was temporarily repaired. There are plans for a new building but so far no construction has started.

Recently, library services were cut drastically in many provinces. On the East Rand some libraries now close at 16:30 on weekdays and do not open on weekends at all. This has made it very difficult for school children who do not have other access to libraries. The Alberton library implemented these hours back in October 2006.

Khoisan skeleton?

The skeletal remains, possibly of a Khoisan man who died 500 years ago, were recently found by builders in Elands Bay, about 220 kilometres from Cape Town. A skull and forearm was found buried about 1.2 metres deep. The bones were found in an upright, seated position. Archaeology students at the University of Cape Town are investigating. The last major bone discovery in the Cape Town area was in May 2003, when hundreds of human skeletons were uncovered on a construction site in Prestwich Street, Green Point. After investigations, a cemetery was found under the foundations of old buildings, which were being demolished to make way for a new building. Later the building of a R5.6 million heritage centre to house the centuries-old human remains found in Prestwich Street led to the discovery of more remains by construction workers and an archaeologist was called in.

Thin blue line

The NGK Horison-Noord in Roodepoort unveiled a private memorial wall last week, dedicated to the memory of police members who have paid the highest price in the line of duty. The wall is in the church's Garden of Remembrance.