Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League on Wednesday condemned the looting and vandalism of shops and stalls in the Johannesburg central business district by protesting schoolchildren.
“We remind everyone who plans to organise a march to remember that there is a responsibility that goes with a right to express the demands or grievances,” league spokesman Bandile Masuku said in a statement.
“Property and people's lives should be protected and safeguarded at all times.”
The students, led by the Congress of SA Students (Cosas), marched from Park Station around 2pm on Wednesday to the education department building on Albertina Sisulu street. They then moved to the Gauteng legislature, before returning to Park Station.
They reportedly handed over a memorandum of demands to education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Some of the demands included an end to corporal punishment, a ban on application fees for placement at tertiary institutions, proper food in the feeding schemes, and an end to the non-delivery of textbooks and other learning materials, reports said.
Four pupils were taken to hospital after being attacked by shop owners whose businesses were looted during the protests.
“Four male learners assaulted by shopkeepers who retaliated were taken to hospital,” Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said at the time.
The protesters looted shops and picked up hawkers' stands and threw them to the ground.
Minnaar said there had been reports of two other groups of pupils protesting in Hillbrow and Fordsburg. He could not confirm if the three groups were linked to each other. The pupils were from different schools in Gauteng.
No permission had been granted for the protest, Minnaar said. Metro officials had been monitoring the situation and said the students had dispersed by 4pm.
Masuku urged youths not to endanger their own lives and undermine the rights of others.
“As young people, we should express our grievances in a manner that is within our democratic rights and with the intention to be listened to.”