Cape Town - Suspected Parliament arsonist, Zandile Mafe, will go on a hunger strike after his bail hearing could not proceed today at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.
Mafe first made the announcement via his lawyer, Senior Counsel Advocate Dali Mpofu, and it was repeated by his lawyer Luvuyo Godla outside court.
“He is of the view that after today, he should no longer be in custody,” said Mpofu. “If his bail application does not proceed, he will embark on a hunger strike.”
Mafe appeared wearing clean clothes and shaved his head and beard.
Prosecutor Hélène Booysen argued that the state could not be held at ransom by the accused’s threats of a hunger strike.
The bail application could not proceed as the state presented a letter from a district surgeon advising the court to refer Mafe to Valkenburg Psychiatric Hospital. The medical report stated he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
Mpofu believed it would be unfair to send their client for a month-long mental evaluation.
A new additional charge was also added - contravening of Section 5 of Act 33 of 2004, Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorists and Related Activities Act was added during the appearance.
Mpofu said they were only informed this morning about the new charge and the recommendation letter. He expressed discontent and said they were ambushed with the information, and it was unacceptable.
“The same state that argues of a possible mental illness of my client is the same state that added an additional charge of terrorism this morning.”
The Magistrate said his hands were tied by the evidence placed before him that recommends that Mafe be taken for evaluation. He said Mafe must be taken for mental evaluation as per recommendation by the letter. The court also said Mafe’s legal team could also refer their client to an independent psychiatrist.
A clearly unhappy Mafe shook his head after the announcement by the magistrate.
The case was remanded until 11 February. Mafe will remain in custody until his next appearance, where it is expected that psychiatric results will be presented.
Outside court, dozens of Mafe’s supporters who had been singing were disappointed.
“It was impossible for us to arrange an expert today in court when we were only formed this morning that he was assessed,” said a disappointed Godla.
“They did all this to incapacitate us not to do anything and for them to secure any remand. We have been begging them to give us a charge sheet. Our client is saying he is not so cheap. He can never sell his constitutional right for food. If our government failed him while he was outside, he sees no point for the government now to provide food for himself. He is further requesting that anyone that will go and visit him not bring food because he is not going to consume food.”
Godla said Mafe would only eat when his bail application is heard.