President Jacob Zuma told security forces to take "very strong action" against those who trashed streets and assaulted people, as supporters of African National Congress (ANC) Youth League president Julius Malema did outside the ANC's Johannesburg headquarters this week, The Star reported on Friday.
Zuma was addressing media at the end of what he called a very successful state visit to Norway, where Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg offered to help South Africa host a successful COP17 climate conference in Durban later this year.
When asked about the violent protests during the ANC disciplinary hearing against Malema, Zuma said he wanted to deal with the issue in general terms because he had not personally witnessed the Luthuli House protests, according to the report.
"We don't accept it. I don't think it augurs well for democracy," he said.
"If we say people must have free association, free speech, in democracy, it does not give permission to those who feel they need to… trash the roads, break windows, beat up people. That's not the exercise of democracy.
"I feel, and I've been saying to the security forces, that very strong action must be taken against those people because they're breaking the law."
Zuma said the protests were unacceptable and interfered with the rights of other citizens.
"I don't think that is correct. And that is what we as South Africans need to learn. That we must be respectful of others... This culture of not respecting authority is not good for any country," he said.
Malema and five co-accused are facing an ANC disciplinary hearing on charges of bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions in ANC ranks.
The hearing will resume at 9am on Friday when the disciplinary committee will deliver its ruling on Malema's application for the charges to be dropped.
On Tuesday, groups of youths purportedly supporting Malema and his four colleagues threw rocks, bottles and bricks at journalists and police in the Johannesburg CBD.
The violence subsided after Malema addressed them.