Johannesburg - Hundreds of schoolchildren took to the Joburg CBD streets on Wednesday, going on a rampage and looting shops and vendors during a march organised by the Congress of South African Students (Cosas).
The pupils from Gauteng schools marched to the Department of Education to hand over a memorandum of demands to Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Pupils are demanding an end to corporal punishment, a ban on application fees for placement at tertiary institutions, and they want proper food in the feeding schemes, to name a few demands.
Provincial Cosas chairman Nkhobo Khomong compared the quality of food in feeding schemes to those served to prisoners.
“Schools don’t serve proper food. They serve pap and fish full of water, cabbage full of water. Students need nutritious meals and not food to fill them up,” said Khomong.
A pupil from Boitumelo Secondary in Sebokeng shared the same sentiments.
“Feeding schemes serve us uncooked pap. The food is expired. Can you imagine, in summer we eat samp - people can’t concentrate.”
The pupils also complained about the roll-out of the department’s E-learning tablets and expressed frustration at the fact that tablets are being issued only to Grade 8 and 9 pupils in maths and English classes.
Gauteng Education spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane said: “The MEC (Panyaza Lesufi) is sympathetic to their demands but taken aback by their conduct which unfortunately over shadow their legitimate demands.”
Marching through Albertina Sisulu and Rissik streets to the legislature and to the department, Khomong said they were at the legislature not only to deliver a memorandum to the chairperson of education, but also to defend the legislature.
“We want the EFF to know that if they disturb the legislature, they are disturbing the future of this generation because important issues pertaining our education are discussed there,” said Khomong.
Metro police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the pupils didn’t apply for a permit to protest and therefore it was not protected.
A large group of pupils began protesting in Albertina Sisulu and Eloff streets at about 12.30pm and, by the time they were done, four male pupils had to be taken to hospital after being assaulted by shopkeepers whose stores they were allegedly looting.
“The learners were misbehaving. They caused damage to vendors’ property and were looting,” said Minnaar.