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‘I’m gonna burn it more’ – arson accused Zandile Mafe admits he torched Parliament in court rant

‘I’m gonna burn it more’ – arson accused Zandile Mafe admits he torched Parliament in court rant
Zandile Mafe in the Western Cape high court on 13 July, 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images. /Brenton Geach)

The Western Cape High Court had a glimpse of the mental state of suspected Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe when he went on a rant on Thursday.

Before proceedings began, Mafe yelled: “I burn it intentionally… I’m gonna burn it more if it doesn’t move to Bloemfontein or Pretoria…”

He added: “Give me a life sentence of 25 years… I will be the next President in 2048.” Also that the “service delivery protests outside are about my release”.

Throughout the theatrics, which lasted at least 10 minutes, Judge Nathan Erasmus maintained his cool and did not interrupt Mafe.

Mafe, who appeared out of control, also shouted: “Whites are murderers. We are living in shacks. The farmers, they took 97% of our land, so we must take the land without compensation, we must grab the land for the black people. I’m a black conscious movement.

Zandile Mafe admits

Zandile Mafe gestures during his rant in the Western Cape High Court on 13 July 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

“I want this Parliament to move from this white, racist right-wing DA. The DA must not be in the Parliament; they are killers and murderers and Helen Zille is just a meisie, racist right-wing DA.”

The case was adjourned for 20 minutes to allow Mafe’s legal representatives – advocates Mkiwe Nyathi and Luvuyo Golda – to calm their client. Senior counsel Dali Mpofu wasn’t available and followed proceedings virtually.

Psychiatric report

The court was set to hear whether the defence team had consulted with their client and a private psychiatrist on whether they would accept or dispute the findings of two psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist following Mafe’s assessment at Fort England Hospital in the Eastern Cape.

On 28 March 2023, the court ordered that Mafe be sent to the hospital to determine whether he is capable of comprehending the gravity of the charges against him, the crime he allegedly committed, and defending himself in court.

Mafe has been in jail since his arrest in January 2022 after a fire gutted parts of Parliament. He is accused of setting 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.

When proceedings eventually got under way, Judge Erasmus said: “I deliberately did not interrupt Mr Mafe. I’m aware of his medical condition and I didn’t want to exacerbate it.”

More drama ensued as Erasmus lifted a ban on the media from reporting on the findings by the psychiatrists and psychologist, which include:

  1. The accused is unable to follow the court proceedings as to make a proper defence and/or;
  2. At the time of the commission of the offence the accused was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of the act in question and to act in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his act.

Mafe’s defence team said they were not prepared to proceed. Mpofu asked for a postponement so that a forensic psychiatrist could meet Mafe on Zoom. Only then would they be able to say whether they agreed with the report’s diagnosis or intend to contest it.

Prosecutor Mervyn Menigo reiterated that the State has been ready to proceed since August 2022 when pre-trial proceedings began.

Zandile Mafe in the Western Cape High Court on 13 July 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

He told the court: “In court, we got a taste of Mr Mafe’s conditions. I’m just a bit concerned if indeed the diagnosis is correct as indicated in the report. Taking off my lawyer hat and putting on my humanitarian hat, we are dealing with someone who is inhumane.”

Judge Erasmus said: “This will be the final postponement. If nothing is received from the parties, I’m satisfied that I will deal with the matter in terms of the report.”

The defence and the State have been ordered to file their respective reports by 8 August.

The court further ordered that Mafe be held in the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison, or any other correctional facility if there is no space available.

The judge reiterated: “I don’t want Mr Mafe to be held with the general population.”

The matter has been postponed to 10 August where proceedings will be heard virtually. The court will also request that the Department of Corrections set up the necessary electronic equipment so that if any of the psychiatrists on the platform wish to consult with the accused, they can do so. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Wow. Another Mpoohfoo client. Wonder if he’s going to lose this case too? Can’t imagine this nutter has any cash to pay his usual exorbitant fee, so is he just doing it for the TV exposure, or do his EFF bosses want to be associated with a daily anti-DA racist rant by the accused?

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