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Parliament fire: EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi hits back at government’s ‘negligence’

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting the National Assembly and Old Assembly on fire. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting the National Assembly and Old Assembly on fire. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 5, 2022

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Cape Town - EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says that a “self-respecting government could not arrest, charge and present a homeless person to the world as responsible for burning a whole country’s Parliament”.

Ndlozi took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the court appearance of Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting the National Assembly and Old Assembly on fire.

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Mafe, 49, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in connection with the fires that ravaged parts of Parliament on Sunday and Monday.

He faces charges of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device and destruction of an essential infrastructure.

In a tweet, Ndlozi wrote: “Prosecuting this man for burning a whole parliament is evidence of self-stupefaction on the part of government. In essence you are telling us to focus on him & not the fact of your NEGLIGENCE! You saying it’s VERY easy to bridge Parliament security! Sies! [sic]”.

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Mafe's legal representative, Luvuyo Godla, said his client was not the person who was supposed to be apprehended in connection with the Parliament fire.

“This is not the person who was supposed to be apprehended. This one is a scapegoat. What interest would that poor man have in burning Parliament? How would that person get access to Parliament and how would he know where to go in Parliament and burn? It’s clearly a scapegoat. This is the failure of the executive and legislature, not that poor person. Surely where you are you don’t know how to enter Parliament and what are the key points to burn,” Godla told reporters outside court.

He added that there were no issues with Mafe’s mental state.

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Video: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

“He was not in possession of anything, in fact he denies vehemently those charges. He rejects those charges.

“Why would private security and the police not be present at the place where they are supposed to be? We don’t even know how long it took for them to arrive. It can’t be that if you come across someone wandering around a certain proximity to the crime scene and therefore assume that he is the person.

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“My client denies and rejects these charges and therefore he will plead not guilty,” he said.

Godla said the matter was pro bono as Mafe was unemployed. He is originally from Mahikeng.

Magistrate Zamekile Mbalo postponed the hearing to allow for further investigations.

The spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, said more charges were likely to be brought against Mafe.

Ntabazalila said the State requested the court to postpone the case for the next seven days for bail information, such as the confirmation of Mafe’s residential address, whether he has any assets, any pending cases, any pending warrants of arrests against him and any previous convictions.

“The State also requested the postponement in order to determine the schedule under which the accused will be charged as it intends to charge him under Schedule 5, while the defence insists that he must be charged under Schedule 1.

“The postponement will also provide the investigating officer, Colonel Theron, with an opportunity to visit the crime scene to determine the extent of the damage. The crime scene was still active until late yesterday, which made it inaccessible,” he said.

The matter has been postponed to January 11.

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Political Bureau

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