Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe intends to sue government

The 49-year-old said he will plead not guilty to all charges he is facing.

Suspected Parliament arsonist, Zandile Christmas Mafe says he intends to sue the state for causing reputational damages.

Mafe was back in the dock on Saturday after his bail hearing was postponed because the 49-year-old tested positive for Covid-19.

Not guilty

The suspect took to the stand in the Cape Town Regional Court, where he indicated that he will plead not guilty to all six charges he is facing, which includes one count of terrorism.

“I am not guilty but I do accept that the are serious charges,” Mafe said in isiXhosa during the court proceedings.

Mafe explained why he went on a hunger strike while in prison, accusing government of failing to feed him before he was arrested.

“Why does the state want to feed me now in custody?” he asked.

The 49-year-old, who resides in Khayelitsha, also refuted claims that he is mentally ill.

He further argued that he won’t be a flight risk if granted bail, and signalled his intention to seek compensation from the state, which is opposing his bail.

“I want to sue the state, but in the High Court,” Mafe said.

ALSO READ: Parliament fire: Hawks confirm they’re looking into more suspects

On why he sometimes slept in the streets, Mafe said he went to Cape Town CBD in order to find casual work. 

“As a poor and unemployed man, I had to sleep anywhere, like the people who sleep at the [Cape Town] City Hall, just to cover my head,” he said.

“After three or four days I have to go back to my place in Khayelitsha so that the people don’t see I am not always there… so that my stuff cannot be stolen,” he added.

Earlier, Mafe told the court that he left Mahikeng, where he is from originally, after dropping out of school in grade 11 to find work.

But after battling to find a job in Johannesburg and Pretoria, he moved to Cape Town in 2014 where he found employment at a bakery.

He said he lost his job in 2018.

Release from Valkenberg

His appearance in court came after he was released from the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Town following a court order.

The Western Cape High Court last Tuesday declared Mafe’s referral to the psychiatric hospital for a 30-day mental observation unlawful.

Judge President John Hlophe ordered that Mafe be released immediately and transferred to Pollsmoor Correctional Centre.

READ MORE: Parliament fire suspect’s attorney accuses government of making him scapegoat

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) indicated that Mafe was only admitted for mental observation because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia with paranoia, but acknowledged there were “irregularities” in regards to the referral.

Mafe’s legal team – which includes advocates, Dali Mpofu and Luvuyo Godla – had challenged the referral, arguing that it was unlawful and unconstitutional.

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Cape Town Dali Mpofu Parliament Zandile Mafe

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