Parliament arson accused Mafe moved to psychiatric hospital to undergo a 30-day mental health evaluation

Zandile Christmas Mafe during an appearance in the Cape Town Regional Court for his bail application. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Zandile Christmas Mafe during an appearance in the Cape Town Regional Court for his bail application. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 29, 2023

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Johannesburg – According to the National Prosecuting Authority’s Western Cape communications manager, Eric Ntabazalila, the Western Cape Division has ordered Zandile Christmas Mafe to be transferred to and detained at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital, in the Eastern Cape, to undergo a 30-day mental health evaluation.

Judge Nathan Erasmus ordered that psychiatrists at the hospital determine whether the accused is capable of understanding the court proceedings so as to make a proper defence; whether, at the time of the commission of the offence, he appreciated the wrongfulness of the act in question; and whether his appreciation of the wrongfulness of his actions at the time was affected by mental illness or intellectual disability or any other cause.

Judge Erasmus directed the head of the hospital to submit reports to his registrar, who would share them with the State and defence, and to the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, on or before May 8, 2023.

“The State charges Mafe with housebreaking with intent to commit arson and arson, terrorism, and theft after he allegedly burned down Parliament, destroying the Old and New Assembly Buildings of Parliament between January 1 and 2, 2022,” said Ntabazalila.

Ntabazalila said Mafe had a short stint at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital following a recommendation by a district surgeon during his first appearance at Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. That order was successfully reviewed at the high court on a technicality, and Mafe was returned to Pollsmoor Prison.

“After that, there have been three occasions where he has refused to attend court, either by demanding to be provided with a kettle and flat-screen television set or claiming that he is on hunger strike, or bluntly refusing to leave his prison cell. At his last appearance before Judge Erasmus, he told the court that he would not go back to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital,” Ntabazalila said.

“Mafe will be returned to Pollsmoor Prison at the end of his mental evaluation at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital and will return to the high court for another pre-trial conference on May 8, 2023.”

The Star