Getrude Makhafola
2 minute read
11 Jan 2022
2:14 pm

Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe to undergo mental evaluation

Getrude Makhafola

A previous schizophrenia diagnosis prompted the court to send Mafe for 30 days of mental observation.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, a suspect in connection to a fire at Parliament, appears in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in Cape Town on 4 January 2022. Picture: Xabiso Mkhabela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday ruled that alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe be committed to a psychological evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

The State had earlier presented a psychiatric report that showed that Mafe was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. The court said its “hands were tied” due to the psychiatric report from a medical doctor and had to refer to Section 78 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which states that “the court shall refer an accused person to a mental institution if there is a prima facie evidence presented before it that the accused must be observed and a report obtained to determine whether he would be fit to stand trial or not.”

ALSO READ: Parliament fire accused faces terrorism charge

Mafe’s legal representative Dali Mpofu, SC was adamant that the bail application be heard, adding that a psychiatric report mustn’t deprive his client of the right to apply for bail. He accused the State of ambushing the defence when they only presented them with more documents right before the court sitting.

He told the court that Mafe said there was nothing wrong with him, and would embark on a hunger strike should he continue to be detained.

Mpofu was assured that he would have an opportunity to apply for bail on behalf of the alleged arsonist.

“The case is postponed to 11 February 2022 for observation. The accused is in custody in the meantime, and you can still indicate if you still want to secure a date for bail application. I am not a medical doctor to dispute the document put before me. That said, the defense is entitled to refer their client to independent doctors, that is an order… We can agree on a way forward,” ruled the court.

ALSO READ: Parliament fire: State to oppose suspect’s bail application as case is postponed

An additional charge of terrorism has been added to Mafe’s charge sheet, bringing his charges to six.

The State charged that Mafe “unlawfully and intentionally delivered, placed, discharged or detonated an explosive device” onto the Parliament building, with the intention of causing destruction that was likely to result in economic loss.

The 49-year-old Mafe, who hails from Khayelitsha, was arrested in connection with the January 2 Parliament blaze that destroyed the Old and the New Assembly buildings.

The Hawks have since taken over the investigation.