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Hlophe to hear urgent bail plea by man accused of torching parliament

Alleged arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe in Cape Town magistrate’s court on January 11.
Alleged arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe in Cape Town magistrate’s court on January 11.
Image: Esa Alexander

The man accused of setting fire to parliament will make a bail application on Saturday in front of Western Cape judge president John Hlophe.

Zandile Mafe's application is due to begin at 11am at the Cape Town high court, where demonstrators have been encouraged to gather in support of the alleged arsonist.

Mafe, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has begun 30 days of observation at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Town.

He is due back in the Cape Town magistrate's court on February 11, when a decision is expected on whether he is fit to stand trial.

Eric Ntabazalila, the National Prosecuting Authority's Western Cape spokesperson, said: “The NPA can confirm that it has received a notice of motion for an urgent application for bail at the high court.”

Mafe is not expected to appear in person in front of Hlophe, but the law allows bail applications to go ahead in the absence of the accused.

Mafe, 49, faces a charge of contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act, which places the onus on him to prove it is in the interests of justice to release him on bail, which the state has vowed to oppose.

In court on Tuesday, defence counsel Dali Mpofu said Mafe denied he had mental challenges and said he would embark on a hunger strike if the court did not entertain his bail application.



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