'ANC is killing us' - DA unveils billboard listing names of Marikana, Life Esidimeni victims

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, at a press conference at Parliament in December. (Jan Gerber/News24)
DA leader Mmusi Maimane, at a press conference at Parliament in December. (Jan Gerber/News24)

The streets of Johannesburg were a sea of blue on Wednesday morning, as DA supporters marched to unveil a billboard in memory of the fallen victims of Marikana, Life Esidimeni and for the children who have died in pit toilets.

The party claimed that the ANC was the cause of these tragedies and also blamed the party for crime-related deaths in South Africa.

Among those in attendance was DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga and MP Phumzile van Damme.

While unveiling the billboard on Anderson Road in the inner city, DA leader Maimane read out all the names emblazoned on it, as the marchers knelt down on the tar road. 

Maimane said there was no difference between what happened at Marikana and what took place in Sharpville in 1960.

"There is a South Africa where some of our people go to work. It was a number of years ago. They decided that they are not earning enough so they took to the streets, which is their right, and the ANC said, we will meet them with concomitant action," Maimane said.

He said the ANC was responsible for killing striking Marikana workers.

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

'ANC is killing us'

Maimane said no one had gone to jail for Marikana or the Life Esidimeni tragedy. He added that the Life Esidimeni scandal, where 144 people died, was not a natural disaster, but was an "ANC disaster".

"Let us be honest and say, the ANC is killing us. And today the 'us' is the 144 who died in Life Esidimeni," said Maimane.

He reiterated that it was time for change. He said the billboard was a memorial for all South Africans who "were killed".

Steenhuisen said the party cared about crime and believed that citizens should be protected.

"It's time to make the criminals uncomfortable in our communities, and not our community members uncomfortable. We can bring that change," he said. 

Msimanga said: "Those [who] were responsible for Life Esidimeni are going back to Parliament. Those [who] were responsible for Marikana are awarded with positions. Those [who] allowed the Guptas to loot the state are allowed to continue enjoying the perks paid by South African tax money. That’s how South Africa is being killed." 

He added that it was time to stand up for children who found themselves going to schools with no electricity, and for families who were still waiting for RDP houses.


Comments noted

The ANC says it has noted the comments attributed to Maimane. 

"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.  The ANC will take up the matter in the appropriate forums provided for in the country’s electoral laws," acting ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement on Wednesday. 

"The antics of the DA expose the bankruptcy of their politics and the levels of desperation they have descended to.  This is a party whose politics have become toxic who believe that fear mongering and spreading lies will frighten voters to support them at the upcoming elections."

He added that there is no doubt that the successive ANC administrations have transformed the lives of the majority of South Africans for the better.

"The ANC recently unveiled its manifesto outlining its plans to take South Africa forward and build a cohesive society, where all its citizens not only meaningfully contribute to its growth, but equally benefit from the opportunities brought about by our democracy," Kodwa concluded.    

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