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Outgoing Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi is latest high-profile DA member to slam Phoenix posters

08 October 2021 - 18:56
A DA poster in Phoenix ahead of the local government elections. The community there came under fire in July after 36 people were killed in unrest in the area.
A DA poster in Phoenix ahead of the local government elections. The community there came under fire in July after 36 people were killed in unrest in the area.
Image: Supplied

Outgoing Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi has become the latest high-profile DA member to slam the decision by the party to put up posters appearing to praise vigilantes in Phoenix, Durban.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Friday, Baloyi said the party should not have put up the posters, which it subsequently took down after a public outcry.

The two posters, which read “The ANC called you racists. The DA calls you heroes”, were in reference to the vigilante action of residents of Phoenix after the death of 36 people during the pro-Jacob Zuma unrest which erupted in the country in July.

“It should never have happened, it was a mistake and I think listening to one of the [community] groups, I think it's the peace committee in Phoenix, I mean they made it clear on how this has undermined the work that they have put in place and what they are doing on the ground.

“And I think we must have a big appreciation for that. Never mind whether we are trying to be politically correct or not, it was really ill-advised to put such a poster in that area. And I am really happy that they are taking accountability for it and removing the posters,” said Baloyi.

He said it was not yet clear what the implications of the saga would be for the party.

“Potentially it could [hurt the party beyond KwaZulu-Natal] because the trust deficit between us and our people can easily widen with things like this. People become uncertain about us, people are irritated by us and people, with something like this, may even be cautious with us and be suspicious,” said Baloyi.

He said with the challenges the party faces with race, it did not help to lose public confidence.

Baloyi's comments come after City of Johannesburg mayoral candidate Mpho Phalatse came out to criticise the move by the party in putting up the posters.

“Lives were lost in Phoenix, innocent people died and we did not look at that when we put up those posters,” Phalatse told Sunday Times Daily during an interview in Alexandra.

“As an individual, I do believe we should acknowledge that it was a blind spot. Yes we did not intend to offend, because we would never defend lawlessness and murders and that is not what the posters are saying, but that is what people are reading.

“And because of the offence that has been caused, I would push for the party to apologise, take the posters down, come up with a catchy campaign message and we all move on in the interest of building the nation,” she said.

The party has since resolved to take the posters down after a meeting of its federal executive on Thursday. DA chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Dean Macpherson has taken responsibility for allowing the posters to be put up without the sign-off of party leadership.