'Parliament arsonist' Zandile Mafe to be held in hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison

08 June 2023 - 14:32
Alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe during a previous court appearance. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times Alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe during a previous court appearance. File photo.

Alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe has been remanded to the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town after appearing in court on Thursday.

Mafe faces charges of terrorism, housebreaking with intent to commit arson and arson after the devastating fire which gutted the National Assembly wing in January 2022.

He appeared after undergoing mental evaluation at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital in the Eastern Cape. The court ordered he undergo a 30-day mental evaluation at the facility on March 28.

“Judge Nathan Erasmus ordered psychiatrists at the hospital to inquire whether [Mafe], because of mental illness and/or intellectual disability, is capable of understanding the court proceedings, to make a proper defence, whether at the time of the commission of the offence he appreciated the wrongfulness of the act and whether his appreciation of the wrongfulness was affected by mental illness or intellectual disability or any other cause,” said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

Erasmus informed the court on Thursday the panel of experts had submitted an electronic report but ordered its contents not yet be disclosed as the defence needed to consult their client.

Advocate Dali Mpofu SC earlier told the court the defence may call their own experts if they dispute the contents of the report. 

Prosecutor advocate Mervyn Menigo said the state did not dispute the report and supported the request for a postponement.

“On three occasions Mafe has refused to attend court, either demanding to be provided with a kettle and flat-screen TV or claiming he is on hunger strike or bluntly refusing to leave his prison cell,” said Ntabazalila.

The case was postponed to July 13.