Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has lashed out at what he called "hood rat racists" whom he accused of hijacking the #BlackMonday protests for their own political agenda, Times Live reported.
Mbalula made the remarks during a debate on crime in Parliament.
"The racial superiority protest yesterday betrays the reconciliatory hand of the majority of our people," Mbalula said.
Mbalula reportedly said that over 19,000 people were murdered last year, with many of these crimes occurring in areas like Nyanga and Khayelitsha, where poverty played a role. He said that 74 of these murders happened on farms, and that "some of which were committed by those black shirts".
The protests we saw yesterday betrays the reconciliatory hand of our people. RSA remains a class divided country with the majority poor. pic.twitter.com/x6OkHCE9Yy— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) October 31, 2017
Hundreds of protesters took to the country's roads on Monday in protest over farm murders.
According to Eyewitness News (EWN), #BlackMonday protesters criticised the police for not doing enough to stop farm attacks.
But police spokesman Vuyo Maga reportedly told EWN: "We are quite concerned about it. But blocking people's movements on roads does not help anything."
The protests came under heavy criticism as the old South African flag was seen at several gatherings.
The ANC condemned the use of the flag and what it called "racist behaviour" at the protests, and said that all murders were important, not just those of white farmers, according to Times Live.
In a statement on Monday, the police ministry called for the protests to be peaceful and warned against the blocking of roads.
STATEMENT— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) October 30, 2017
Protests must remain non violent. pic.twitter.com/3B8wW91qsu
But the road blockages went ahead anyway, and the police were criticised for taking a soft line against protesters, allegedly because they were white.
White farmers are blocking the roads illegal and police are not shooting rubber Bullets but if it was african youth, yho!!! @MbalulaFikile— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) October 30, 2017
Mbalula admitted that this might have been the case.
Lawlessness from any quarter is unacceptable and should be condemned. In this instance you might be right, Police lowered the guard. https://t.co/1VGMiLTlZ1— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) October 30, 2017