Independent Online

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Parliament arson accused has trial delayed due to outstanding damage report

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting parliament on fire, appeared in the Cape Town magistrates court on Thursday. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting parliament on fire, appeared in the Cape Town magistrates court on Thursday. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 13, 2022

Share

Cape Town - The outstanding damage report was one of the reasons furnished by the State for the postponement of the case against Zandile Mafe, 49, who appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for allegedly setting fire to the National and Old Assembly buildings in January.

Mafe has been charged with housebreaking with intent to commit terrorism, arson and theft.

Story continues below Advertisement

The State on Thursday confirmed that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure would be briefed on the preliminary damage assessment to ascertain the amount of damage caused.

State prosecutor advocate Mervyn Menigo said he would have the final report on the damages caused by the fire on May 20, after it has been presented to the minister and the director-general.

He said the crime scene report was close to being finalised and the expert was waiting for access to engineering plans of the buildings to be completed.

With regards to the terrorism charge Mafe was facing, advocate Menigo said he was waiting for authorisation from the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

“Before the accused pleads in this matter, the authorisation certificates are required. In this regard, the Director of Public Prosecution in the Western Cape had forwarded a memorandum on March 14 to the office of the national director and the priority crimes unit, who monitor matters of this nature.

“I applied for a postponement for the service of an indictment on the next occasion and I propose June 9 as a possible date. On that day the indictment will be served and the matter will be transferred to the high court,” Menigo said.

Story continues below Advertisement

Mafe’s lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, “vehemently” objected to the postponement and told the court the “inordinate delays” were unjustified.

“If there are any charges which the State contemplates to add, they are at liberty to do so when the matter is at high court already. Every time we come here we get these wonderful explanations that now there is this comprehensive report which is required so far; it is not enough.

“Someone is languishing behind us and it is his constitutional right that at least his trial should be expedited so that he can be tried. It can’t be investigated forever,” Godla said.

Story continues below Advertisement

He asked the court to “mathematically” look at the time required for the State to furnish its evidence and return to court in two weeks.

Magistrate Ronel Oliver, while noting the delays, granted the postponement.

“I am satisfied there is sufficient reason placed before this court as to the delays. The delay at this stage seems to be systemic, it seems to be from the forensic reports.”

Story continues below Advertisement

Mafe will return to court on June 9, when the matter is expected to be escalated to the high court.

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Share