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Parliament fire accused goes on hunger strike

Parliament fire accused goes on hunger strike

Zandile Mafe, the man charged with starting a fire that gutted the two houses of Parliament, has gone on a hunger strike.  This comes after the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court ruled that he be referred to the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital for observation.

For his second court appearance, the State amended the charges against him from “damaging or destroying essential infrastructure” to charges related to terrorism – a Schedule 6 offence.

In addition he has been charged with two counts of arson and two counts of housebreaking with intent to steal, and theft. He has also been charged with discharging explosives.

According to public prosecutor Helene Booysen, Mafe’s evaluation at Valkenberg will determine whether he has the mental capacity to stand trial.

This is after a district surgeon had provisionally diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia.

“There is evidence before the court by means of a statement by the district surgeon who is a qualified medical practitioner who says the accused should be referred. The State is adamant that the accused be referred for 30 days observation.

“We are going to do our utmost to see that he is taken out and admitted to Valkenberg as soon as possible,” Booysen said.

Mafe’s legal representative, Advocate Dali Mpofu, was resolute that bail proceedings should be brought before the court irrespective of the State’s submission; if not Mafe would go on a hunger strike.

“The accused person is an individual who is a bearer of his own rights and dignity and is entitled to a bail application. If his bail application does not proceed and he is not released from custody, he will go on a hunger strike,” Mpofu said.

He said the defence was “ambushed” by the State with regards to the amended charges and the statement on Mafe’s mental capacity which had been in the State’s possession since January 3.

The court ordered that Mafe be admitted to a mental institution for psychiatric evaluation. The case was postponed to February 11.

However, the bail application may be heard before this date as the State and defence will deliberate this.

Outside the court, Mafe received unwavering support from scores of people from different organisations, including Streetscape and the PAC.

 

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