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Mafe bail application: Hlope to address the 'elephant in the room'

Zandile Christmas Mafe will remain under observation at Valkenberg. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ ANA

Zandile Christmas Mafe will remain under observation at Valkenberg. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ ANA

Published Jan 15, 2022


An urgent bail application by the legal team representing alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe has been postponed until next Saturday, pending the outcome of another dramatic hearing set for Tuesday.

Mafe’s defence attorney Luvuyo Godla and his senior council, advocate Dali Mphofu, made an urgent bail application to the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

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The lawyers said their client, who allegedly started a fire at the parliamentary precinct on January 2, had been wrongfully treated by the judicial system.

Judge President John Hlope, who presided over the application, pointed out that he had to first address the “elephant in the room” – the legality of sending Mafe to Valkenberg for psychiatric evaluation – before making a decision on the bail application.

Mafe faces charges, in relation to the fire at Parliament, of two counts of arson, one of terrorism and one of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, among others.

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On Tuesday, Mafe was remanded in custody and sent for 30-days mental observation at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, amid allegations he is mentally challenged.

Magistrate Zamekile Mbalo agreed with the State that there was prima facie evidence of this allegation.

Hlope said that he had been made aware of a challenge to this ruling.

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“The challenge detailed instances about how the order came about, so there is questioning whether the order was made properly.”

Hlope explained that he, as a single judge, could not overturn a competent ruling, and needed another judge to sit with him.

“Therefore, I have engaged with my colleagues and came to the decision to first address this elephant in the room, whether the order was made wrongfully.

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“So the challenge will first be discussed on Tuesday, at a virtual hearing, and this will help with my decision about the bail application, which will be heard next week Saturday.”

Mafe, who was not present in court, will remain under observation at Valkenberg.

Golda explained that his client should have never been remanded for more than seven days pending a bail application hearing.

Luvuyo Godla believes his client has been done wrong. Picture: Phando Jikelo/ African News Agency/ANA

“Nowhere in South Africa is it allowed. An accused can only be remanded for seven days at a time, and our client now has to wait 30 days due to him being sent to Valkenberg for observation.”