Monday, 25 April 2022 20:48

Judgment reserved on alleged parliament arsonist's bail appeal.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Judge James Lekhuleni on Monday reserved judgement on the "urgent" bail appeal of Zandile Christmas Mafe after a four-hour hearing at the Western Cpe High Court.

Mafe was arrested at Parliament on 2 January on the sidelines of the fire that gutted the National Assembly building and parts of the Old Assembly.

He faces charges of housebreaking, theft and terrorism, among others, and was denied bail in the Cape Town Regional Court.

The prosecution suggests Mafe started the fire because of his unhappiness with the South African government.

The State details how it believes Mafe bought petrol in a bottle and headed to Parliament.

He then allegedly sneaked into the precinct and spent some time on the grounds.

The prosecution will also set out to prove he used matches, boxes, paper, and the petrol he purchased to set Parliament alight.

As for the motive, the State claims it flows from Mafe's deeply held political, ideological, and philosophical beliefs, as well as an intense resentment towards the South African government.

Court papers indicate this detail was revealed in Mafe's confession to police officers.

However, his pro-bono lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, argued during the application for leave to appeal the bail refusal that Mafe was being denied his constitutional right to freedom.

He submitted that the "so-called confession" obtained from Mafe did not contain specifics, as was required for it to be considered an admission.

Mpofu said lines such as "It was the right thing to put Parliament on fire" because "it does not help the people of South Africa" were no different to an opinion that anybody might make.

"He didn't say it was the right thing to do 'by me'," said Mpofu, submitting that confessions and admissions have to be specific.

Mafe claims he was sleeping outside Parliament when he was woken up by police officers and for the first time saw the building on fire.