High court orders Zandile Mafe back to jail pending his trial

Western Cape High Court judge Daniel Thulare on Monday ordered Zandile Mafe back to prison pending his trial following the dismissal of his bail reapplication.

The court ruling infuriated Mafe’s legal representative advocate Dali Mpofu, who believes his client is being denied his right to freedom. “This is now the fourth time that we’re in this court with no progress,” said Mpofu earlier in the day.

He told a full bench of judges that Mafe has been incarcerated for five months without bail and without being proven guilty, noting that if the incompetence of the police, prosecutor, and acting magistrate were put aside, his client would have long been released.

Mpofu said like any other citizen, Mafe is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The 49-year-old Mafe has been in custody since his arrest for setting South Africa’s parliament alight in January. He denies all the charges, which include housebreaking with intent to commit terrorism and arson, arson, terrorism, and theft.

In February, prosecutors told the court that facial recognition experts had positively identified him from a video footage collected on the day of the blaze.

Mafe was initially denied bail in February when Cape Town regional court’s magistrate Michelle Adams ruled that the court was not satisfied that exceptional circumstances existed to permit his release.

Mpofu argued at the time that the repudiation of his client’s bail was flawed, saying it was based on a “so-called confession” that was not worth the paper it was written on.

On April 25, Thulare and James Lekhuleni heard Mafe’s first bail appeal at the high court and resolved to reserve judgment. His trial was postponed earlier this month to June 9 after the Cape Town magistrate’s court cited outstanding forensic reports.

National Prosecuting Authority’s Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalisa said at the time: “The delays on the reports that we are expecting [include] the damage report, as well as the engineering report. Both reports, we expect them to be ready when we come back on June 9.”

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