Human Rights

Parliament arson suspect appears in court

A 49-year-old suspect has appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning in connection with the fire that engulfed Parliament on Sunday until late last night.

The suspect, Zandile Christmas Mafe from Khayelitsha, is facing five charges including housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device and destruction of essential infrastructure.

“The case since been postponed to 11 January for the investigators to confirm certain information which includes the residential address of the accused and whether he’s got assets,” the National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila told journalists outside court.

In addition, Ntabazalila said the investigators have not been able to go to Parliament to assess the extent since the crime scene was still “active”.

However, Mafe’s lawyer Luvuyo Godla believes that his client is being used as a “scapegoat” and denies that his client did not have his explosive when he was arrested.

Meanwhile, Parliament has confirmed that the fire flare up that engulfed the roof of the National Assembly building on Monday afternoon has now been contained.

“The fight against the fire continued into midnight following yesterday afternoon’s re-emergence of the fire which was propelled by solid south-easterly winds and necessitated the deployment of heavy-duty aerial fire-fighting appliances to reinforce the existing capacity,” the statement read on Tuesday.

The spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said further damage has been caused, with the building that houses offices of Members of Parliament and support staff, being completely gutted and the roof around where the flare-up occurred destroyed.

Parliament has commended the firefighters who displayed a “courageous” and “brave” fighting spirit to put down the fire by midnight.

Source: South African Government News Agency