DA leader Mmusi Maimane says there is a "smear campaign" against him, following a report that he drove around for months in a car that was a gift from former Steinhoff boss Markus Jooste.
In a series of tweets on Sunday morning, Maimane first addressed News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson saying the claim that he refused to hand back the car even after the Steinhoff scandal broke, is a lie.
In the report by News24's sister publication Rapport, Jooste made the white Toyota Fortuner available for Maimane to use during the 2016 local government elections.
DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe confirmed to the publication that the car was owned by a rental company and paid for by Steinhoff.
Jooste is accused of insider trading, cooking financial books and dodging taxes, all of which caused the company's share price to crash and wiped out R20bn in investments from public pensions.
Selfe said that after the Steinhoff revelations, the party thought it best, under the circumstances, to return the vehicle, which they later did.
But according to Rapport it appeared that Maimane had for months continued to drive the vehicle, despite letters from colleagues warning him of the risks.
In his tweet to Basson, Maimane said that while campaigning in Johannesburg and after the Steinhoff scandal broke, he wrote a letter sending the car back.
"I have since used my personal vehicle for work purposes", he tweeted.
The complete lies that I refused to hand the car back once the Steinhof scandal broke. I campaigned in Joburg and we wrote a letter sending the car back. I have since used my personal vehicle for work purposes.-- Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) September 29, 2019
In a separate tweet, Maimane wrote "the smear campaign continues". He tweeted about "gutless individuals" who are spreading lies "about me and my family".
"I have always sought to build a South Africa for all. I remain committed to that vision, regardless of how uncomfortable it may make others feel".
The smear campaign continues. These are gutless individuals who will not be named and instead spread lies about me and my family. I have always sought to build a South Africa for All. I remain committed to that vision, regardless of how uncomfortable it may make others feel.-- Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) September 29, 2019
In a separate article, the Sunday Times reported that Maimane was recently pushed hard by senior DA member of Parliament Mike Waters over the circumstances of his rental of a R4m home in Claremont, Cape Town.
The report claims Waters asked Maimane about his stay at the home during a meeting of the Federal Executive last week.
Two weeks ago the City Press reported that Maimane had declared a R4m house in the Cape Town suburb in a parliamentary register, despite the home never belonging to him.
Requests for comment from DA spokespersons have been sent and will be added when received.