There were old South African flags, kudu-wors rolls, people in zombie make-up and posters featuring photos of dead farmers when the Red October group marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday – but there were also calls for tolerance and warnings against hate speech and racism.
The almost universally white Afrikaner group, organised by Afrikaans singer Sunette Bridges, delivered a memorandum calling for an end to black-on-white violence and what it termed reverse racial discrimination in education and employment.
"We are not denying that they [other races] are being murdered, but they are not being murdered by white people," said Bridges when asked why the focus was on white – especially farm – murders. "And if they were murdered by white people, the international community would have an absolute freak-out."
The group and its organisers came under fire from other Afrikaans-speaking constituencies for appropriating a traditionally communist slogan for its name on what in previous years had been celebrated as Kruger Day, the birthday of Boer resistance leader Paul Kruger.
But although the Vierkleur and old South African flags (both strongly associated with the far-right wing) were common among the 400-odd marchers in Pretoria, organisers said they were fighting for the rights of minorities, not protesting against black rule.
"Everyone is welcome here," said Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr, who acted as a celebrity drawcard for the event. "We march to prove that there are South Africans left who won't acclimatise to the substandard."
Complaints include the state of public services such as healthcare and education.
Despite arguments that the event was intended to advance minority rights in general, the focus was very much on the rape and murder of white people by black people, something organisers did not shy away from characterising as genocide.
Hofmeyr, who has been called out for using dubious statistics to back up such claims, was unrepentant about saying white people faced an exaggerated threat.
"Immaterial of the statistics, we are not used to this mortality rate, we are not used to being raped in these numbers," he said.
Crime affects everyone in South Africa, he told the crowd, but Afrikaners had the right to count their own dead.
"If we say all deaths should be counted, why do we count the rhinos and not count all dead animals?"