Cape Town - “Speak in Tswana!” shouted alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe as the interpreter relayed information to him in court today.
Mafe appeared briefly before Judge Gcinikhaya Nuku, who stood in for Judge Nathan Erasmus earlier today.
The court interpreter began relaying information to Mafe in Xhosa, to which Mafe responded by demanding that she speak in Tswana. Mafe stood up in the dock, his shirt buttons popping, pointed angrily at the interpreter and demanded that she speak in his home language. The interpreter remained composed and began to speak in Tswana, which was met with a disgruntled nod from Mafe. Mafe proceeded to storm out of the dock, making angry clicking sounds.
Advocate Nikiwe Nyathi appeared on behalf of advocate Dali Mpofu and rendered apologies on behalf of Mpofu, who represents Mafe. State prosecutor Mervyn Menigo said that it was delayed by a report from the director-general of health, and stated that the submissions that would inform the State's position only arrived yesterday evening.
“We experienced delays from the department of health who only sent in the recommendations yesterday evening. We would like to raise our concerns with the court on some of the merits of the correspondence,” he said.
Nyathi also made the court aware that she also had submissions to make with regard to the director-general’s report. Judge Nuku suggested that he was not in the position to hear the concerns as he was merely standing in for Judge Erasmus.
Judge Nuku further suggested that the two legal teams deliberate on a date for the matter to be heard again.
“I would much rather have the presiding officer deal with any concerns upon his return. I propose for the state to suggest a date for the matter to be heard,” he said.
The State suggested March 17. Nyathi did not oppose the date.
Mafe remains in custody and is charged with housebreaking with intent to commit arson, terrorism and theft. His trial continues on March 17 at the Cape Town High Court.