Image: Briefly SA
Zandile Mafe has refuted social media rumors that he is a Russian or Chinese-trained operator who is suspected of setting fire to Parliament.
He stated that he was not affiliated with any war veterans’ organizations that would possess explosives knowledge. Mafe claimed that he first learned of the fire when he was awoken outside the parliamentary precinct by police.
This was revealed in an affidavit submitted to the Western Cape High Court on Saturday by his legal team in support of an urgent bail application. Mafe stated in his response that he felt there was no video footage of him passing through the precinct during the fire, which destroyed the National Assembly building and took two days to extinguish.
He said that when he was taken in for questioning, the police gave him two boxes of unknown contents to carry and that he was manhandled. Mafe’s comments clarified whether he was a street dweller or a resident of Khayelitsha.
He stated that he has lived in a shanty in Site B, Khayelitsha for the past two years, but due to the fact that he only did menial labor and carried groceries for tips, he could not always afford to travel home.
Mafe stated that he occasionally slept outside the precinct and returned to his shanty to check on its security and for a change of clothes. The accused, whose middle name appears to be derived from his December 24th birthdate, adding that he felt upset by being detained and unable to seek for bail pending the outcome of his psychological evaluation.
He plans to argue that detaining him at Valkenberg Hospital for 30 days violates his constitutional right to request for bail within seven days of his arrest, which he is represented by Dali Mpofu SC and Luvuyo Godla. Mafe also intends to file a legal lawsuit against the police for what he believes to be his unconstitutional arrest and detention.
He stated in his statement that he was born in 1972 in Mahikeng, North West.
His mother died while he was a child, and he and his two brothers were reared by his father, a security guard, and his unemployed stepmother.
Money was always tight in the Mafes’ Lonely Park house, and he dropped out of high school in Grade 11 in search of “greener pastures” in the Western Cape.
He did, however, struggle to obtain a permanent work.
Mafe alleged that he was sleeping outside the parliamentary area on 2 January when he was awoken by police.
“At that point, I observed for the first time that the big Parliament building was on fire, with black smoke billowing from the roof.”
He claimed he was abused and that as he was escorted into the parliamentary area, he was given boxes to carry.
“I have no idea what those crates contained. The SAPS seized my personal items.
“During the course of the investigation, members of the SAPS accused me of starting the fire that was raging in Parliament. I categorically disputed this.”
Mafe stated that he was taken to the Cape Town police station but was then booked out and driven to an unknown location by an unknown male.
He was informed there that he faced the death penalty for torching Parliament and should cooperate with the authorities.
South Africa is a death penalty-free country.
“I was afraid, and as a result, I agreed to ‘cooperate’ with whatever they asked of me. However, the white man’s assurance turned out to be hollow, since I was not released and am still in police detention two weeks later.”
He was also transported to Khayelitsha after the police searched his shack.
Mafe stated that when he appeared in court on 4 January, there was no charge sheet but he faced Schedule 1 counts of burglary, arson, and theft at the time. However, during his subsequent appearance, where he was anticipated to seek for bail, his attorneys were presented with a charge sheet charging him with housebreaking, theft, arson, and an additional Schedule 6 terrorist charge.
And, rather of proceeding with the bail application as planned, he was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation.
This began on Thursday, when he was escorted to Valkenberg Hospital from Pollsmoor Prison.
According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila, the State made this argument before the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on the basis of a pre-appearance evaluation by the district surgeon, who diagnosed Mafe with paranoid schizophrenia.
His attorneys asserted that necessary procedures were not followed in the referral and gained a Saturday morning spot on the Western Cape High Court’s urgent roster for his bail application.
The majority of media outlets were denied admission on the grounds that they had not submitted an application in writing and owing to Covid-19 restrictions. The following sessions are expected to be hybrid, with live streaming of the proceedings.
Following a brief hearing, his attorneys were granted permission to dispute the 30-day observation order on Tuesday, and then return the following Saturday to request for bail. Mafe stated that he believed it was critical to be present in court to testify if necessary, and he could not do so while under observation.
“Following my experiences at the hands of the State over the last two weeks alone, I am eager to share my story in solidarity with other impoverished and unemployed South Africans who face such humiliation on a daily basis.”
“I am not a criminal,” he continued, “but a poor person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
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