DA's 'The ANC is killing us' billboard elicits outrage

DA members unveil a billboard showing the names of victims of the 2012 Marikana massacre and the Life Esidimeni tragedy in Johannesburg yesterday.
DA members unveil a billboard showing the names of victims of the 2012 Marikana massacre and the Life Esidimeni tragedy in Johannesburg yesterday.
Image: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

The committee representing families of the Life Esidimeni tragedy has slammed the DA's billboard with the names of the victims, describing it as offensive to those who lost their loved ones.

Yesterday, the DA revealed its controversial billboard on Queen Elizabeth Drive in downtown Johannesburg in an effort to show "how decisions made by the ANC have cost lives in South Africa".

The billboard shows a fist dripping with blood with the words: "The ANC is killing us." It then lists all the names of people who died in Marikana, the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the children who have died in pit toilets.

Life Esidimeni Families Committee member Andrew Pietersen said the families of the mental patients killed in the tragedy were never consulted about the billboard.

"It is offensive. They did not get permission from us to do that," Pietersen said.

He said the DA did not have the right to publish the names the way they did.

"As a committee we were never consulted. We have never agreed to this. I think it is a terrible way of using people's pain to pursue your own political ends. It is a terrible move by the DA."

It was an unusual sight as the main opposition departed at Westgate transport hub carrying placards with the faces of the top six leadership of the ANC echoing the slogan on the billboard.

A group of DA members led the crowd in blue carrying a huge banner with a similar message. The DA members, all in blue, wore black armbands on their left arms declaring the moment as a "sad day in South African history".

In an election year in which the DA has already identified Gauteng as one of its targets to win, the march got the attention of the onlookers as thousands of party members marched through the streets.

The leadership of the DA braved the scorching Johannesburg heat to lead the march. DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party wanted to highlight the lives that have been lost due to the decisions of the governing party.

"Today, as we speak, many of our brothers and sisters when they go to school there will be no teacher, and sadly for them when they go to the toilet they will die [in pit toilets] because the ANC has failed to give them proper toilets," he said.

Maimane said there was "no difference with what took place in Marikana and what took place in Sharpeville".

"We never thought it would be our people that kill our people," he said.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa described the unveiling to the billboard as a desperate move of a party losing its relevance with the voters.

"There is nothing political about it. If they think that this will bring them votes, they are making a mistake. Some of those incidents are tragedies which must not be used for political point scoring."

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