Zandile Mafe officially indicted for setting parliament on fire

The Cape Town magistrate’s court on Thursday officially charged alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe after receiving the outstanding damage and arson report.

State prosecutor Mervyn Menigo said the national director of public prosecutions issued a certificate to pursue terrorism charges against Mafe, noting that the suspect officially faces charges of arson and housebreaking with intent to commit arson, contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Other Related Activities Act, alternatively terrorism, discharge of an explosive or lethal device, and theft.

The matter is due in August 12 for a pre-trial conference that will determine when the trial will officially get under way. The 49-year-old Mafe has been in police custody since his arrest in January for allegedly setting the National Assembly chambers on fire at the start of the year.

In May, Western Cape High Court judge Daniel Thulare ordered Mafe back to prison following the dismissal of his bail reapplication. Mafe has maintained his innocence, but the prosecutors have told the court that facial recognition experts have positively identified him from a video footage collected on January 2, the day of the blaze.

Mafe’s lawyer Dali Mpofu previously argued 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. The trial was postponed 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.”

Also read: High court orders Zandile Mafe back to jail pending his trial

Parliament ‘arsonist’ Zandile Mafe’s case postponed to June

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