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Accused Parliament arsonist threatens hunger strike

Parliament arson-accused Zandile Christmas Mafe. Picture: Chevon Booysen

Parliament arson-accused Zandile Christmas Mafe. Picture: Chevon Booysen

Published Jan 12, 2022


CAPE TOWN- Parliament arson-accused Zandile Christmas Mafe will embark on a hunger strike after he heard that he would face further detention and his bail application could not commence on Tuesday.

Mafe, who now faces an added charge under the Contravention of the Terrorist and Related Activities Act after his court appearance yesterday, has been ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.

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This comes after the State said they had sent Mafe, on January 3 -- a day after his arrest and a day before his first court appearance -- for a consultation with district surgeon Zelda van Tonder, who diagnosed him as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

During court proceedings on Tuesday, a clean-shaven and well-groomed Mafe, through his legal counsel -- in which advocate Dali Mpofu officially came on record as senior counsel -- said he would go on a hunger strike as he felt his right to liberty was being infringed if he remained in custody any longer, and he would “not exchange his liberty for food”.

Mpofu said they were ambushed with three documents before court started, which included the new charge brought against Mafe, the diagnosis report by Van Tonder and a Schedule 6 offence certificate.

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Mpofu had argued that Mafe’s further indefinite detention was violating his client's right to liberty, saying this was a “travesty of justice and patently unjust”, further adding that the actions of the State “are inconsistent with the State who says they care about Mafe”.

“We are simply appealing for his right to apply (for bail) at this stage…whether he be granted or not granted (bail) for whatever reasons, is another matter. But to deprive him of ten days of an opportunity to place before a court of law reason why there are exceptional circumstances that he should be released, is a travesty of justice,” said Mpofu.

The State had also abandoned the charge relating to the destruction of essential infrastructure.

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In the newly-added charge, the State alleges: “The accused is guilty of the offence of contravening the provisions of Section 5… of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

“In that on January 2, and at or near Parliament, the said accused did unlawfully and intentionally deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive device in, into or against a place of public use, a state or government facility or system where such destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss.”

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “The (psychiatric evaluation) referral comes despite protestations by Mafe’s defence, who argued that their client had told them that ‘there is nothing wrong with me’. The defence further argued that Mafe has threatened to go on hunger strike if his bail application did not start on Wednesday.

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According to his defence team, Mafe ‘doesn’t understand why the government that was unable to feed him while he was outside, is now interested to feed him, and is not prepared to trade his liberty for food’. They further argued that he was entitled to bail.

In response, Senior State Advocate Helene Booysen dismissed the argument stating that Mafe, who is charged under Schedule 6, was not entitled to bail, but was entitled to a bail hearing.”

Booysen had argued that they would have to get a report back from the Valkenberg Hospital confirming Mafe’s mental state and if he was indeed fit to stand trial and follow court proceedings, before moving on to a bail application “which could prove to be a waste of time” if the psychiatric evaluation report won’t necessitate a trial.

Cape Times

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