Defense attorney Dali Mpofu is seeking bail for Zandile Christmas Mafe, who was arrested last week and charged with arson.
A South African court has charged a man suspected of setting a devastating fire that devastated South Africa’s parliament with “terrorism”, contributing to robbery and arson, when he made his second appearance on Tuesday. made in court.
Zandile Christmas Mafe (49) was arrested near the parliament complex after the fire broke out on Jan. 2 and appeared in court three days later.
He was initially charged with burglary at parliament, arson and intent to steal property, including laptops, crockery and documents, before the new terror charge was added on Tuesday.
A new indictment said the “accused is guilty of violating the provisions of … the protection of constitutional democracy from terrorists and related activities”, according to a court document.
Prosecutor Eric Ntabazalila told reporters during a court hearing that “we have added a sixth charge … the accused detonated a device inside parliament”.
The fire broke out before dawn on January 2 in the Cape Town complex and spread to the National Assembly, whose roof collapsed.
Protesters outside the courthouse demanded his release, saying he was a scapegoat.
Defense lawyer Dali Mpofu said Mafe was “taken for mental observation on January 3” last week and diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia”.
Mpofu, one of South Africa’s best-known lawyers, who has defended a number of high-profile figures, including former president Jacob Zuma, is seeking bail for Mafe.
“He is innocent”
In stark contrast to his first court appearance where he was bearded and dressed in a gray shirt with knee-length denim shorts, he came clean-shaven on Tuesday in a light blue shirt and a dark jacket.
Since his arrest, debate in South Africa has raged over whether Mafe, described in the local media as homeless, was responsible for setting the building on fire.
A group of about 30 people, who were taken outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and demanded that Mafe be released, and waved handwritten signs such as “Free Mafe”, “He is innocent” and “He is innocent”.
One homeless person recounted the events of the night the fire broke out. He was sleeping in a street near the parliament complex and heard a sound like a car crash.
He later suspected it was the burglary before the fire broke out.
A preliminary report by the City of Cape Town last week said the fire detection system looked “faulty”, “sprinklers did not activate” and that they were last serviced in 2017, which misses a scheduled service of February 2020.
It cost many firefighters more than two days to put out the fire, which tore through the meeting room with wooden panels where parliamentary debates are being held.
No casualties were reported in the fire, but the major damage shook the country and forced the authorities to move the annual state of the nation address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa next month to an alternative location in Cape Town.