The controversial billboard that put the Democratic Alliance in hot water is being vandalised. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency

Cape Town - The controversial billboard that put the Democratic Alliance (DA) in hot water has been vandalised.

The opposition party launched the #TheANCIsKillingSA campaign in Johannesburg on Wednesday and unveiled the 'The ANC is Killing Us' billboard. 

The billboard sparked outrage and the party was slammed for being insensitive.

However, the DA insists the billboard is freedom of speech.

"The DA will do everything in its power to ensure that those involved in criminal acts are brought to justice. It goes against the freedom of speech to vandalise a billboard that pays tribute to people died at the hands of the ANC-led government," DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said.

"This act of destruction is an insult to the memories of the people who died during the avoidable Esidimeni tragedy, Marikana murders and pit toilet deaths. The act of tearing their names is deeply offensive."

The DA said it did not need permission to use the names as the names were in already in the public domain.

Our billboard on those who died because of the ANC is being vandalized, who is afraid of the truth? #ANCIsKillingUs

— Jack Bloom (@JackBloomDA) January 17, 2019

While launching the campaign, DA leader Mmusi Maimane read out the names of victims in the Marikana massacre, the Life Esidimeni tragedy, and children who had died after falling down pit toilets. 

The Esidimeni Family Committee is furious and is set to take legal action against the opposition party.

The DA defended the backlash after the African National Congress (ANC) accused it of slander.

"From Marikana to Life Esidemeni, South Africans passed away in the most horrific of circumstances and the perpetrators of their untimely deaths have either been protected, emboldened or promoted by the ANC," said Malatsi in a statement.

"Each name on the billboard represents a South African who was forsaken by an indifferent and uncaring ANC government."