Defense attorney Dali Mpofu is seeking bail for Zandile Christmas Mafe, who was arrested last week and charged with arson.
A South African court charged a man with allegedly starting a devastating fire that destroyed South Africa’s parliament with “terrorism” on Tuesday, adding robbery and arson charges, a second time in court.
Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, Arrested near parliament building He appeared in court three days later after the January 2 fire.
He was initially charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intent to steal property including laptops, crockery and documents, before new terrorism charges were added on Tuesday.
According to a court filing, a new charge alleges that the “defendants are guilty of violating . . . provisions protecting constitutional democracy from terrorism and related activities.”
“We have added a sixth charge … the accused detonated a device in Parliament”, prosecutors spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told reporters during the court recess.
The fire broke out in the Cape Town complex before dawn on January 2 and spread to the National Assembly, its roof collapsing.
Protesters outside the courthouse demanded his release, saying he was a scapegoat.
Defense attorney Dali Mpov said Maffei was “under psychiatric observation on January 3” last week and was diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia.”
Mpofu, one of South Africa’s most prominent lawyers who has defended some high-profile figures including former president Jacob Zuma, is seeking bail for Mafe.
“He is innocent”
In stark contrast to his bearded, grey shirt and knee-length denim shorts at his first court appearance, he was clean-shaven in a light blue shirt and dark jacket on Tuesday.
Since his arrest, the debate over whether Mafe, who was described as homeless in the local media, was responsible for setting the fires has sparked heated debate in South Africa.
A group of about 30 people picketed outside Cape Town Magistrates Court demanding Mafe’s release, waving handwritten signs such as “Release Mafe”, “He is innocent” and “He is not guilty”.
A homeless man recounted the events of the night the fire started. He slept on a street near the parliament building when he heard the crash of cars.
He later suspected it was a break-in before the fire.
A preliminary report from the City of Cape Town last week said the fire detection system had “failed” and “sprinklers did not activate” and that the last repairs were made in 2017, missing a scheduled service for February 2020.
It took dozens of firefighters It took more than two days to put out the fire, it ripped apart the wood-panelled chamber where parliamentary debates were held.
No casualties were reported in the fires, but the widespread devastation has rocked the country and forced authorities to move President Cyril Ramaphosa’s annual State of the Union address to Cape Town’s annual State of the Union address next month. another location.