In photos: Young people march to Union Buildings

“They tell us to study hard and graduate and that this will lead to a better life but so many of my friends have not managed to find a job after completing their studies”

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Hundreds of young people marched to the Union Buildings on 16 June

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Pretoria on Friday 16 June to march to the Union Buildings. The protest took place under the banner of the National Youth Coalition, a coalition of over 100 organisations across the country. Participants commemorated the Soweto uprising of 1976 and highlighted their grievances of today.

Protesters we spoke to said the government is disregarding the concerns of young people.

One leader cited the average age of a South African parliamentarian which is about 60. The demand for younger leaders in positions of power was made clear by the protesters.

A young woman from Funekile Secondary School in Soshanguve wearing a traditional headband at the march

Unemployment was a major concern, especially the high rate of youth unemployment. The marchers called for sustainable and meaningful jobs for young people.

Watching the protesters march passed his apartment block was tertiary student Daniel Boloyi who will be graduating at the end of the year. Boloyi is worried about the struggles he might face in finding a job. “They tell us to study hard and graduate and that this will lead to a better life but so many of my friends have not managed to find a job after completing their studies. I’m very worried about next year when I’m going to have to look for a job,” he said.

A participant gets people ready for the march to the Union Buildings

Dimpho Maditla, a young woman from Soshanguve, was marching because of her concerns about gender-based violence.

“As a young woman I don’t feel safe in my community. Everyday we hear of something terrible that has happened to a woman. Government needs to address this issue with the urgency that it deserves,” said Maditla.

Protesters hold up their placards as they march through the city

At the Union Buildings the demonstrators handed a memorandum to officials from the Presidency. Demands included putting an end to racism and corruption, the creation of safe schools, quality education and healthcare, and also a demand that government listen to youth about climate change.

Organisers of the march expressed disappointment that their memorandum delivered last year was not responded to. They claimed that this was proof that government does not take the demands of young people seriously. They vowed to be back next year and to continue to organise until their demands are met.

A child watches as the march passes his home in Pretoria.

TOPICS:  Youth

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