South Africa


Parliament ‘arsonist’ Zandile Mafe snubs court after being denied bid for kettle, radio and TV in his jail cell

Parliament ‘arsonist’ Zandile Mafe snubs court after being denied bid for kettle, radio and TV in his jail cell
Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe in the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on 11 January 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Suspected Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe wants coffee, a kettle to boil water, a radio and television in his Pollsmoor Prison cell. When Correctional Services said he couldn’t, he refused to leave his cell and did not attend the pre-trial proceedings in the Western Cape High.

Mafe was scheduled to appear in court on Friday so the defence and the State could make sure all documents relating to the case had been exchanged and a trial date could be set.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) allege that Mafe set fire to the National Assembly building in the early hours of 2 January 2022. He faces charges of terrorism, arson, housebreaking, theft and possession of explosives. He was arrested on the same day, after he was seen leaving the parliamentary precinct.

On 4 February, Mafe’s application to be released on bail was dismissed by magistrate Michelle Adams. His advocate, Dali Mpofu, took the decision to the high court on appeal, but this was dismissed in May.

Read in Daily Maverick: “State seeks second medical opinion on mental health of alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe”

On Friday, Mafe’s legal adviser, advocate Luvoyo Godla, told the court he was surprised by his client’s no-show, and distanced himself from his action.

“I’ve been informed that my client wanted a television to watch the news, a radio, coffee and a kettle to warm water inside his cell. The Pollsmoor authorities refused to do this because inmates injured each other with the kettle. Following this my client on Friday refused to leave his cell.

“Senior council Dali Mpofu also confirmed that he will be here so that we can go and visit with him. It didn’t happen. That is also a reason why Mafe is not here,” Godla said.

Alleged arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe appears in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on 11 January 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Another reason for Mafe’s no-show relates to Godla himself as legal representative and his inability to secure an earlier date from the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to hear Mafe’s bail appeal.

Papers in his regard, Godla said, have already been filed with the SCA and he is waiting for a date to be set fore matter to be ventilated. He reiterated that this client does not understand that there are due processes to be followed.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Trials by fire: The mystery of Zandile Mafe and the burning rage of a traumatised nation

The advocate further underlined that Mafe does not know the repercussions of his actions, particularly on his bail appeal. The question simply was, he said, if his client did not want to come to court when he was in custody, what were the chances that he would show up when he was out on bail.

“His conduct places his bail application in jeopardy; this is not something that I can try and hide. I definitely need to zoom into it. There are issues we need to take into account when we deal with Mafe. 

“However, it does not make him behave in this way. His matter before SCA, we are just waiting for a date of his bail appeal hearing. If Mafe conducted himself in this fashion, surely even as a person representing him I would be dishonest not to have a concern,” Godla added.

Bail in ‘jeopardy’

After the court proceedings Godla said that as a legal representative he definitely needed to alert Mafe to those things. He gave an undertaking that he would speak to his client.

“I don’t want, when I appear in court and the question [is] asked: that if he does this while in custody, can you say he will appear and abide by the bail condition?

Read in Daily Maverick: “The Life and Times of Zandile Mafe: Quintessential post-apartheid everyman or wily pyrogenic political patsy?

“When I stand before court I can say with great certainty this man is a law-abiding citizen, he will come and will abide and comply with all conditions that might be set by the court,” Godla emphasised.

He maintained that his client was not guilty, adding that the investigators had indicated that more arrests would be made. None had been forthcoming and Godla said they were waiting on the more arrests as promised.

Meanwhile, the state expressed again that it was ready to proceed with the trial. Mafe is due back in court on 4 November. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jaqueline Perkes says:

    We keep on entertaining this utterly rogue behaviour and it will continue until we stop it!

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    What happened to trial in absentia? this joker needs to be shoved in jail and throw the key away.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The problem we need to understand is whether denial of bail or being locked up is not to ensure that a person does appear in court. If a person fails to appear in court whilst in custody why is that person not taken to court by force? Do rights of awaiting trial prisoners include refusal to attend trial? Then there must be something very wrong with this democracy. It is to take matters too far!

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