South Africa parliament fireplace suspect charged with ‘terrorism’

Defence lawyer Dali Mpofu is looking for bail for Zandile Christmas Mafe who was arrested final week and charged with arson.

A South African courtroom has charged a person suspected of beginning a devastating fireplace that gutted South Africa’s parliament with “terrorism”, including to theft and arson accusations, as he made his second look in courtroom on Tuesday.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, was arrested near the parliament advanced after the fireplace broke out on January 2 and appeared in courtroom three days later.

He was initially charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal property, together with laptops, crockery and paperwork, earlier than the brand new terrorism cost was added on Tuesday.

A brand new cost mentioned the “accused is guilty of the offence of contravening the provisions of … the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities”, in line with a courtroom doc.

The prosecution spokesman Eric Ntabazalila informed reporters throughout a courtroom recess that “we have added a sixth charge … the accused detonated a device inside parliament”.

The blaze broke out within the Cape Town advanced earlier than daybreak on January 2, spreading to the National Assembly, the roof of which collapsed.

Protesters exterior the courtroom constructing demanded his launch saying he was a scapegoat.

Defence lawyer Dali Mpofu mentioned that Mafe was final week “taken for mental observation on January 3” and recognized with “paranoid schizophrenia”.

Mpofu, one in every of South Africa’s most well-known legal professionals, who has defended some high-profile figures, together with former president Jacob Zuma, is looking for bail for Mafe.

‘He is innocent’

In stark distinction to his first courtroom look the place he was bearded and wearing a gray shirt with knee-length denim shorts, on Tuesday he got here in clean-shaven in a light-weight blue shirt and a darkish jacket.

Since his arrest, debate has raged in South Africa over whether or not Mafe, described within the native media as homeless, was liable for setting the constructing on fireplace.

A gaggle of about 30 individuals, picketed exterior the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court demanding Mafe be freed, brandishing handwritten indicators resembling “Free Mafe”, “He is innocent” and “He is not guilty”.

One homeless particular person recounted the occasions of the evening the fireplace began. He was sleeping on a road near the parliament advanced and heard a sound like a automobile collision.

He later suspected that was the break-in earlier than the fireplace began.

A preliminary report by the City of Cape Town final week mentioned the fireplace detection system appeared “faulty”, “sprinklers did not activate” and that they have been final serviced in 2017, lacking a February 2020 scheduled service.

It took scores of firefighters greater than two days to extinguish the blaze, which tore via the wood-panelled meeting chamber the place parliamentary debates are held.

No casualties have been reported within the fireplace, however the in depth injury has shaken the nation and compelled the authorities to move the annual state of the nation handle to be delivered subsequent month by President Cyril Ramaphosa to another venue in Cape Town.

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