Court date set for Parliament arson accused’s latest bid for bail

  • Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe will appeal to the Western Cape High Court against a lower court’s refusal to grant him bail.
  • The appeal will be heard on 22 April.
  • Mafe denies starting a fire that gutted large parts of Parliament.

Intent on getting released from prison while he waits for his trial, alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe is headed for the Western Cape High Court next week to appeal the Cape Town Regional Court’s refusal to release him on bail.

The appeal is expected to be argued on 22 April.

Mafe was refused bail after a circuitous application.

His lawyers first got him released from the Valkenberg psychiatric facility, where he said he did not belong. The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court ordered that he should undergo a psychiatric evaluation and he was so incensed that he refused to eat.

Mafe is accused of starting the fire which gutted large parts of Parliament at the beginning of January.

The damage was so severe that the National Assembly is unusable, and about 50 tons of water from firefighters’ efforts have pooled in the basement, making it unsafe for investigators to be there. As a result, assessing the damage and collecting evidence has been slow.

READ | Hawks’ analysis places Zandile Mafe inside Parliament at time of fire, court hears

At his last court appearance, the court was told that he was positively identified as the person who was seen walking around the rooms and chambers of the lawmakers’ complex.

Mafe alternated between living on the streets of Cape Town and in his shack in Khayelitsha, depending on his cash flow and availability of money for transport.

If he earned R1 000 a month from helping to carry people’s groceries, he considered it a good month. He had a tight budget, which included food, rent and travel costs.

At his bail application he said he hoped well-wishers would support him if he was granted bail, because it would be difficult to work after the publicity the case received. He proposed living either in Khayelitsha or with family in Lonely Park, Mahikeng.

Defence advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, said Mafe was unfairly deprived of his freedom while the State prepared its case against him.

Mafe left Mahikeng after school and moved from one city to the next, looking for work. His last job was at an Albany Bakery in Cape Town.

READ | Govt forks out nearly R400 000 for another report linked to fire that gutted National Assembly

After that he would help people carry their groceries and if he didn’t have enough money, he would find a place to sleep in the CBD, usually on a pavement.

When he was arrested, he was woken up from his sleep outside the precinct on 2 January. He said the first he knew of a fire was when the police started accusing him of starting it.

The State has to prove that he is guilty of terrorism, arson and housebreaking.

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