We never burnt schools - 1976 student leader

Johannesburg – "We were dodging bullets and teargas, we burnt beer halls but we never burnt schools," said Deputy Chairperson of the June 16 1976 Foundation, Dan Montsitsi, on Thursday, sending a stern warning at today’s youth on the dangers of burning schools.

Montsitsi, one of the student leaders who organised the student uprising of 1976, said government needed to create new legislation against the burning of schools.

"We burnt a number of buildings out of anger and those buildings, we believed they deserved to be burnt," he said.

"We burnt most of the beer halls throughout Soweto, and all administration board offices. No single school was burnt in 1976 because if you were to burn schools, which classroom would you be studying in?

"Each and every student was hell bent on defending their classrooms. Classrooms were never ever torched."

Montsitsi said today's youth were reminiscent of the 1976 generation.

"The youth will always remind you to move a little bit faster so we applaud them for maintaining this militancy and energy."

He said government should caution against tampering with the militancy of the youth.

"We also wish to indicate that youth left by themselves would sometimes be prone to acts of anarchy. At all material times there should be elders to guide them but not tamper with the militancy."

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