John Nicholson
It’s been eight months since South African book hero John Nicholson was forced to shut down his community library, and on Wednesday the City of Cape Town confirmed plans are underway to reopen it.

When the Daily Voice visited John’s home in Hillview, Lavender Hill, on Wednesday we were greeted by a sad-looking sign on the garage door, reading: “Library closed, construction”.

The converted garage, which over school holidays would usually be buzzing with kids reading and playing games, stands empty with no roof.

In April, the City cautioned that he remove the roof or face a penalty of R730 following a decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal.

The drama had started a few weeks before when John and wife Gail, who have been serving the community for 15 years, were approached by a sponsor, Jean Williams of Biblionef SA.

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

But when he and Jean approached the City, they learnt that there was no plan for the makeshift structure.

John was then advised to remove the entire roof or face a penalty.

The City also told John he must apply for a land use permit and permission to operate his library.

On Wednesday, Felicity Purchase, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, confirmed the building plan is nearly complete.

“The City’s Development Management Department is currently in the final stages of processing a building plan application for Erf 162052, Seawinds,” she said.

“The department is waiting on final inputs from the applicant’s designer.”

Meanwhile, John says life carries on and next week, they will be holding a fundraiser for his NGO Omegaview, in the form of a Christmas play.

He says despite the library being shut down, children still come to their house to read and play, and they provide these children with a meal, sometimes the only one they will eat for the day.

The play is called A little baby boy, and is the brainchild of Rodger Hughes, while it is being produced and performed by volunteers of the New Apostolic Church.

Organiser Cheryl Beaten says John deserves all the help he can get.

“Omegaview incorporates a library and soup kitchen in a very dangerous and poverty-stricken area. The project brings light and hope to the members of the community.”

John says he is overwhelmed by the assistance.

The play will take place on December 14, 16, and 17 at the New Apostolic Church in Grassy Park. Tickets costs R50 each, contact Cheryl on 073 165 4409 or Kevin 082 430 0091.

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