Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency
Families of the Life Esidimeni victims are angry over the DA’s election campaign billboard which they said had opened old wounds.

The DA unveiled “The ANC is killing us” billboard, which bears the names of those who were shot and killed by police in Marikana, the 144 Life Esidimeni victims and several children who died in pit toilets, in Joburg on Wednesday. It has since been vandalised.

Life Esidimeni Family Committee spokesperson Christine Nxumalo said they were not consulted and only found out about the billboard in the news. “We are so angry at the DA. What Mmusi (Maimane) has done takes us back really. It brings back that negative element of Esidimeni that you try to but cannot avoid because it is so painful,” Nxumalo said.

Andrew Pieterson, a relative of one of the survivors of the tragedy, said the DA’s request to write the name on the billboard would not have been granted because it was distasteful.

“It is terrible. To show they have absolutely no respect for the integrity of the families. They just went ahead and did it anyhow, without consulting the families.

They must have known it would be rejected outright by the families,” Pieterson said.

ANC acting national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the antics of the DA “expose the bankruptcy of their politics and the levels of desperation they have descended to”.

“The ANC is concerned that the conduct of the DA flies in the face of the Electoral Code of Conduct as it is nothing short of spreading deliberate lies about the ANC,” Kodwa said.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the vandalisation of the “commemorative billboard was tarnishing the memory of those who have died under an ANC government”.

“This billboard is about justice and commemoration for the many South Africans who became the victims of an indifferent, uncaring and cruel government,” Malatsi said. 

 @Siphumelele_K