Students take to the streets of Pretoria over free tablets

Pupils outlined their demands including better sanitation, tablets and interventions to tackle racism.

Police at the scene in Pretoria allegedly made several arrests. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of pupils from across the country on Thursday delivered a memorandum to the Department of Education in Pretoria's CBD.

Pupils outlined their demands, which include better sanitation, tablets and interventions to tackle racism.

The group handed over a memorandum to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's office listing their grievances.

#CosasMarch Some shop owners have shut their doors after their businesses were looted by students. TK pic.twitter.com/yB0IjW5VtX

However, the march took a turn for the worst when shops and streets in the city centre had to be closed due to acts of vandalism.

Police were at the scene and allegedly made arrests.

"It's hectic here in Sunnyside. These kids [are] looting these Indian shops, taking tablets because apparently their schools they didn't get tablets. Some Indian shop owners were beating down a kid. I don't there are even enough vans to arrest all of them. They are arresting some of them now."

Cosas has defended pupils who looted the stores, saying they don't receive food at school and that all South African children must be given a tablet just like "Chinese pupils".

Speaking to the Radio 702's Xolani Gwala, Cosas General Secretary Khulekani Skosana said they would defend their members no matter what.

"If those people who are accused of stealing are members of Cosas and school learners in uniforms, we are defending them; even if we were not marching and they were accused of looting we would have defended them. Defend even those that steal because there is no food to eat at their schools."

But Elijah Mhlanga from the education department says it's unacceptable that schooling is disrupted.

"We still have a challenge when it comes to the completion of the syllabus in schools because a lot of time is lost in other things rather than learning and teaching."

Cosas has dismissed reports of schools being stoned, a principal being assaulted and organisers forcing pupils to join the protest.

#CosasMarch Students with packets of chips and sweets stolen from local shops. TK pic.twitter.com/K7QvZkexSa

#CosasMarch Students running from police after looting shops in the Pretoria CBD. TK pic.twitter.com/YC7GYNT2QR

On Monday the Gauteng Department of Education rolled out the second phase of the 'Wired for Life' e-learning system which saw pupils in over 300 public schools receive tablets.

At the same time, there have been other reports of disruptions of schooling by Cosas in the province.

Skosana said, "They are supposed to be in schools but teachers are hitting them; we are here to represent 20,000 girls who are pregnant and being called monkeys in class. We must get tablets just like Chinese students.