Michael Waters says he feels very strongly about praising the people who armed themselves in Phoenix, near Durban, during the unrest in July.
Upset by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) apology and subsequent removal of posters that read: “The ANC called you racist” and “The DA calls you heroes” – Waters said at the weekend that he was quitting his campaign job.
“I am shocked and horrified by the weakness displayed by my party over the Phoenix poster matter,” said Waters.
“The party’s grovelling apology and decision to take down these posters is appalling and a betrayal of the heroes who defended lives during the period of violence and looting.”
In his resignation letter to his DA colleagues, Waters added: “I am unable to continue to defend and promote a party that is capable of such spineless treachery and therefore I am resigning as regional campaign manager for the DA in Ekurhuleni”.
Some of these so-called heroes have been arrested for killing as many as 36 Africans for simply entering the old apartheid Indian town.
Armed with guns, Phoenix vigilantes who claimed to be defending their property and lives against looters attacked innocent African passer-byes simply because they did not live in Phoenix.
At the time there were no reports of looting or threats to Indians during the unrest.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said more than 50 suspects were arrested for the murders of African people who were killed in Phoenix.
DA leader John Steenhuisen initially supported the posters, however, his party decided – under an avalanche of criticism – to apologise for the “hurt they caused” and took them down.
While Waters quit his voluntary campaign job, he said he will remain a member of the DA and keep his R1,138 million-a-year Member of Parliament job.