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Parliament fire accused Zandile Mafe discharged from Valkenberg

South Africa - Cape Town - Alleged parliament arsonist has been released from Valkenberg Hospital. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - Alleged parliament arsonist has been released from Valkenberg Hospital. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 19, 2022


Cape Town - Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe has been discharged from Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital following a high court order.

Judge President John Hlophe yesterday set aside the referral of Mafe to Valkenberg Hospital, declaring it unlawful and that it should have never happened.

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“The further detention of Mr Mafe in Valkenberg is unlawful and should come to an end with immediate effect,” said Hlophe.

"We realise that he cannot be released now, we are not going to make crazy orders. He should be released first thing tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and be placed in a normal correctional facility and taken out of Valkenberg. That order was made improperly and unlawfully," he said.

Judge Hlophe said that the magistrate who granted the placement of Mafe in Valkenberg did not even ask Mafe to respond to questions or greetings, to determine if he was dealing with a possible case of a mentally disturbed person.

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The NPA confirmed Mafe’s release this morning in a statement.

Mafe was admitted to the facility last Thursday after a district surgeon diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and recommended he be admitted for a 30-day mental assessment.

The high court reserved judgment in the review application of the referral of Mafe to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.

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Mafe’s lawyer, senior counsel advocate Dali Mpofu, represented him in absentia and it was revealed Mafe tested positive for Covid-19.

Judge Hlophe also ordered the bail application to be held on Saturday at Cape Town Regional Court. The application succeeded with costs and stated Mafe be released to Pollsmoor Correctional Centre.

Said NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila: “During the proceedings, the NPA conceded that there were irregularities with the referral, as more information should have been made available to the presiding officer with the referral of the accused. The NPA emphasised that its decision to refer the accused for mental evaluation was based on a diagnosis and recommendation of Dr Zelda van Tonder.”

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Advocate Mervyn Menigo argued that, if the defence succeeds in its application, the referral must be referred back to the District Court so that it is to be done properly by a different magistrate.

“The State will wait for the judgment with the anticipation that that request is addressed,” added Ntabazalila

The State abandoned the count related to damage to essential infrastructure, but Mafe now faces a Schedule 6 offence due to the new charge, which falls under the Contravention of Section 5 of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

This places the onus on him to show he can be trusted to return to court if granted bail.

Weekend Argus

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Crime and courts