DA leader Mmusi Maimane in front of the controversial billboard. Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he will engage with families who are aggrieved about the party displaying names of their dead loved ones for election campaign purposes. 

He said the party would not remove the billboard that had attracted anger in Johannesburg. 

During his campaign in Umlazi, south of Durban, on Wednesday, Maimane told the media that he would soon talk to the family because “here is the government that has killed people”. 

“What kind of a government that takes our mentally ill patients and put them in facilities where they end up dying? 

“People in Marikana who marched were killed by the ANC government. Imagine when the apartheid government killed people, and today we are looking at people being killed and it is simply unacceptable and I will engage the families to make sure that there is justice for families who were killed,” he said.

The party received lots of backlash from some family members of Life Esidimeni victims and ANC for displaying billboard with names of the dead accompanied by a message 'The ANC is Killing Us'.  The billboard was later vandalised, but the party had since replaced the damaged one. 

When asked if the party would remove the billboard to respect families who had expressed displeasure at the use of the names of their loved ones without consultation, Maimane said: “At this point in time the message must remain”. 

“The billboard is only a reminder to South Africans that Life Esidimeni took place, Marikana massacre took place, children are dying in pit latrines.

“At which point has there ever been a politician who is held to account,” he said. 

Political Bureau