Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has given four DA members seven days to apologise for sharing a fake Auditor-General (AG) social media post claiming that adverse findings were made against her.
News24 reported in May that some party members, including at least two DA members of Parliament, shared a social media post that contained a forged signature of Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.
The social media post in question included a picture of De Lille and the headline "Patricia de Lille exposed", before it listed alleged breaches relating to MyCiTi bus tenders.
Makwetu himself told News24 that, as national head, he did not personally sign municipal or provincial documents in the way that that it appeared in the document.
In an open letter on Thursday, De Lille demanded that DA branch executive Henk Hugo, DA KZN deputy provincial chairperson Shehana Kajee, deputy chief whip Mike Waters, and NCOP MP Bronwynn Engelbrecht, apologise.
"In May this year, the Auditor-General dismissed the contents as fake. Not only was the AG's signature forged, but his office denied knowing anything about the origins of the document," De Lille wrote.
"By reposting or otherwise distributing the document, you published defamatory material regarding me, which is aggravated by the fact that this was done as part of a concerted effort to discredit me for political reasons. Your intentions were vindictive, reckless and very damaging to my reputation.
"I have instructed my attorneys to commence legal action against you in respect of these defamatory allegations but before doing so, would like to afford you all an opportunity to retract same and to apologise to me in public.
"You have seven days till October 18, 2018 to issue a public apology."
Members 'fell victim to fake news'
The party said at the time that its members had fallen victim to fake news.
"This document is not an official communication of the DA and has not been shared on any official DA platforms, nor has it formed part of the ongoing disciplinary matter between the DA and the City of Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille," deputy federal council chairperson Natasha Mazzone told News24.
"Any DA leader or member who has shared this has simply fallen prey to fake news on social media platforms, which is quite common."
Waters told News24 in May that he had no idea that the document was a fake. He had simply "reposted" it from social media.
The post was an original post from Waters, both on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He maintained though, that he first saw it on Twitter, and subsequently used it on his own accounts.
He agreed that the post was problematic and the issue warranted further investigation.
"Of course [it's worrying], someone is forging the AG's signature, which is obviously in itself fraud."
De Lille to 'sue the hell out of' anyone who smeared her name
Engelbrecht told News24 in May that she had seen the document on Facebook originally and decided to repost it, but couldn't say where she had initially seen it.
She had simply seen the listed breaches in the document, and considered them the same as the ones listed by the party in its official findings. She therefore thought it was a legitimate document that "explained the situation well".
On Sunday, De Lille also indicated that she would be suing entrepreneur Anthony Faul for R1m for defamation.
Her decision came after she was notified by the Hawks that the National Prosecuting Authority had made a decision not to prosecute her after considering the evidence in a case of bribery laid against her by Faul.
She also promised to "sue the hell out of" anyone who she believes had smeared her name during her fractious battle with her party this year.