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Justice or faction wars at play? SA reacts to court order for Zandile Mafe’s release from mental hospital

Zandile Mafe in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday.
Zandile Mafe in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

Social media users have hailed a ruling by the Cape Town high court to release alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe from Valkenberg Hospital.

Mafe was referred to the psychiatric hospital by Cape Town magistrate Zamekile Mbalo for 30 days of observation, based on a report compiled by district surgeon Dr Zelda van Tonder. Van Tonder recommended Mafe undergo mental observation after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. 

Judge president John Hlophe said keeping Mafe at the hospital would be “unlawful”.

“Further detention of Mr Mafe in Valkenberg Hospital is unlawful and should come to an end with immediate effect. He should be released and placed in a normal correctional facility and taken out of Valkenberg. That order was made improperly and unlawfully,” said Hlophe.

Advocate Dali Mpofu argued, on behalf of Mafe, that he was denied the opportunity to get a second opinion on Van Tonder’s diagnosis.

Mpofu said Mafe had told him he did not understand what the diagnosis was and what it meant.

“He said ‘there is nothing wrong with me and I would like to be released’,” said Mpofu.

Mafe’s lawyer Luvuyo Godla said it was still unclear whether his client, who has Covid-19, will appear in court on Saturday for a bail application.

Godla welcomed the court ruling to release Mafe from the institution.

“The wheels of justice are grinding even faster than Saturday in that we have been pleading and crying for justice. Today the court has set aside the unlawful order made by the magistrate’s court on January 11,” said Godla.

Mafe is set to be released from the mental institution on Wednesday. 

Many took to social media to weigh in on the judgement, with some hailing Hlope and others claiming he was "using the bench to fight factional wars".


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