Connect with us

News

South Africa parliament fire suspect charged with terrorism

Published

on

A South African court charged a man suspected of starting a devastating fire that gutted South Africa’s parliament with terrorism, adding to robbery and arson accusations, as he made his second appearance in court on Tuesday.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, was arrested around the parliament complex after the fire broke out on January 2 and appeared in court three days later.

He was initially charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal property, including laptops, crockery and documents, before the new terrorism charge was added Tuesday.

A new charge said the “accused is guilty of the offence of contravening the provisions of… the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities”, according to a court document.

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

The blaze broke out in the Cape Town complex before dawn on January 2, spreading to the National Assembly, the roof of which collapsed.

Protesters outside the court building demanded his release saying he was a scapegoat.

Defence lawyer Dali Mpofu said that Mafe was last week “taken for mental observation on January 3” and diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia”.

Mpofu, one of South Africa’s most famous lawyers, who has defended some high-profile figures, including former president Jacob Zuma, is seeking bail for Mafe.

– ‘He is innocent’ –
In stark contrast to his first court appearance where he was bearded and dressed in a grey shirt with knee-length denim shorts, on Tuesday he came in clean shaven in a light blue shirt and a dark jacket.

Since his arrest, debate has raged in South Africa over whether Mafe, described in the local media as homeless, was responsible for setting the building on fire.

A group of around 30 people, picketed outside the Cape Town magistrate court demanding Mafe be freed, brandishing handwritten signs such as “Free Mafe”, “He is innocent” and “He is not guilty”.

One homeless person recounted the events of the night the fire started. He was sleeping on a street near the parliament complex and heard a sound like a car collision. He later suspected that was the break-in before the fire started.

A preliminary report by the city of Cape Town last week said the fire detection system appeared “faulty”, that “sprinklers did not activate” and that they were last serviced in 2017, missing a February 2020 scheduled service.

It took scores of firefighters more than two days to extinguish the blaze, which tore through the wood-panelled assembly chamber where parliamentary debates are held.

No casualties were reported in the fire, but the extensive damage has shaken the country and forced the authorities to move the annual state-of-the-nation address to be delivered next month by President Cyril Ramaphosa to an alternative venue in Cape Town.

AFP

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News22 mins ago

UN reiterates support for Nigeria’s development

News24 mins ago

UK government to freeze BBC licence fee for two years

News26 mins ago

Comedian Basketmouth’s wife laments rising cost of foodstuffs

News46 mins ago

Osinbajo inaugurates committee on blue economy, marine resources

World46 mins ago

France: Six statues decapitated in a church

Metro54 mins ago

Sudan revolks Al Jazeera Live’s TV licence over poor reporting

Politics1 hour ago

Provide functional fire trucks in Azare to reduce fire outbreaks, residents tell Bauchi gov

Entertainment1 hour ago

“My love, partner, best friend”- Former US President, Barack Obama celebrates Michelle Obama’s birthday

Entertainment1 hour ago

“My love, partner, best friend”- Former US President, Barack Obama celebrates Michelle Obama’s birthday

Metro1 hour ago

SAD|| College Student Dies At Her Boyfriend’s Hostel After She Went For A Sleep Over

Local1 hour ago

APC hails social media users for promoting Matawalle’s peacekeeping efforts

News1 hour ago

Sudan security forces kill seven anti-coup protesters

Metro2 hours ago

New Study Finds That Wearing Facemask Makes You More Attractive

Local2 hours ago

Bandits attacks increasing number of widows, orphans in Plateau: Cleric

News2 hours ago

Police confirm 16 killed by terrorists in Kebbi attack

World2 hours ago

Biden’s handlers ditch Greece’s EastMed pipeline project in order to appease Turkey

News2 hours ago

Mali junta seeks review of defence accord with France

Sports2 hours ago

Bruno Fernandes’ Behaviour On The Pitch Is Turning His Own Manchester United Team-Mates Against Him

Local2 hours ago

Court remands ex-director Taiga over alleged P&ID scam

News2 hours ago

National Assembly worker slips, falls, dies

News13 hours ago

JUST IN: Scores feared dead as gunmen attack Kebbi community, burn corpses

Business News12 hours ago

Canada’s Periculum Deepens Nigerian Credit Market

Entertainment18 hours ago

51-year-old Nigerian woman gives birth to twins after over 20 years of waiting

Sports13 hours ago

Victor Lindelof Believes His Anthony Elanga Is Capable Of Really Making His Mark For Club And Country

News22 hours ago

FG plans health insurance for pensioners, sets up panel

Entertainment11 hours ago

“Amala is a disgusting food” – Actress, Dorcas Fapson

News11 hours ago

I’m ‘somehow’ related to Tinubu, says female presidential candidate, Khadija Okunnu-Lamidi

News19 hours ago

Foreign inflows fall by 32%, UK, South Africa, others slash Nigeria investments

Entertainment17 hours ago

“Small boys are plucking off eyes and body parts of young women just to drive Benz” – Actor Okon Lagos condemns the current trend of ‘Money rituals’

Sports12 hours ago

Former Leicester City Striker Kevin Phillips Thinks Youri Tielemans Would Suit Arsenal’s Style Of Play

News8 hours ago

Barcelona’s Umtiti to undergo surgery on broken foot

News22 hours ago

PDP govs meet, decide on 2023 zoning, to advise NWC

News11 hours ago

Grazing routes: What worked 60 years ago will be impracticable now, says Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze spokesman

Entertainment14 hours ago

“My mother asked me to kill my younger brother for money ritual” – Suspected Yahoo boy confesses

News22 hours ago

Nigeria’s debt stock hits N39.6tn in 11 months – Reports

News8 hours ago

Pictorial: PDP govs meet in Rivers

World23 hours ago

Did Spanish Authorities Stage the 2017 Barcelona Jihad Attack?

Entertainment18 hours ago

Nollywood movies are the reason a lot of young boys are doing ritual – Samklef

News22 hours ago

Foreign inflows fall by 32%, UK, S’Africa, others slash Nigeria investments

Local9 hours ago

Ex-Ukrainian president in Kyiv to face treason trial

Trending