Terror charge added as alleged parliament arsonist is diagnosed with mental illness

Alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe in the dock at Cape Town magistrates court on January 11 2022.
Alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe in the dock at Cape Town magistrates court on January 11 2022.
Image: Esa Alexander

The man accused of setting parliament alight might not stand trial if the state has its way.

Zandile Christmas Mafe appeared in Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where the prosecution revealed the 49-year-old has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Now the state wants him committed to a mental institution for 30 days’ observation and to decide whether he is fit to stand trial.

Demonstrators gather outside Cape Town magistrates court on January 11 2022 in support of parliament arson accused Zandile Mafe.
Demonstrators gather outside Cape Town magistrates court on January 11 2022 in support of parliament arson accused Zandile Mafe.
Image: Philani Nombembe

However, Mafe now faces a more serious charge after the state added a count of contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

The count falls under schedule 6, which places the onus on Mafe to prove it is in the interests of justice to release him on bail. The state has vowed to oppose bail.

According to the charge sheet, “upon or about January 2, 2022 and at or near parliament, Cape Town ... the said accused did unlawfully deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive or other lethal device in, into or against a place of public use, a state or government facility, to wit parliament building, with the purpose, amongst others, of causing extensive damage to, or destruction of such a place, facility or system, where such destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss”.

Senior counsel Dali Mpofu, who has been briefed to represent Mafe, asked for a brief adjournment to consult with him.

Mafe was clean-shaven and presentable on Tuesday, in contrast to his appearance a week earlier.

Zandile Mafe during his first appearance in Cape Town magistrate's court on January 4, 2022.
Zandile Mafe during his first appearance in Cape Town magistrate's court on January 4, 2022.
Image: Esa Alexander

The hearing continues.

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