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No ruling on alleged Parliament arsonist's fitness to stand trial as arguments continue

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No ruling on alleged Parliament arsonist's fitness to stand trial as arguments continue

Image of Zandile Mafe
Photo by Reuters
Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe

11th December 2023

By: News24Wire

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The expected ruling on whether alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe will be declared fit to stand trial was preceded by additional arguments on Monday.

Arguments are currently under way before Western Cape High Court Judge Nathan Erasmus.

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Erasmus said on Monday morning that the State and Mafe's advocate were given a chance to file supplementary notes when the matter was postponed for judgment on 2 November, which they did.

Due to the public interest in the matter, prosecutor Mervyn Menigo and Mafe's advocate, Dali Mpofu, SC were given an opportunity to take the court through the notes.

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Mpofu opened by questioning whether a Fort England Psychiatric Hospital report on Mafe complied with the requirements of the law that determines fitness to stand trial.

The arguments continue.

Mafe was brought from the cells late on Monday, to Erasmus' annoyance, but he sat quietly and seemed amused by Erasmus' chiding of photographers.

He is accused of starting the fire that destroyed the National Assembly building at Parliament on 2 January 2022.

Mafe was arrested at the precinct on the same day and was charged with arson and housebreaking with intent to commit arson; contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Other Related Activities Act, alternatively terrorism, alternatively discharge or detonation of an explosive or lethal device; and theft. 

He has not yet pleaded to the charges, but repeatedly claimed during outbursts that he started the fire on purpose because he felt Parliament was useless. 

Several psychiatrists assessed him to determine his fitness to stand trial, given his erratic behaviour during court appearances. 

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, with a recommendation that he be admitted to a psychiatric facility for treatment. 

The thought seemed to upset Mafe, who insists there is nothing wrong with him.

During his inquiry he introduced the possibility that he may have been working with other people in high places. He became visibly distressed when pressed on who his supposed accomplices were.

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