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Urgent bail bid of alleged Parliament arsonist to be heard this morning

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By Tauhierah Salie

After receiving an urgent motion, the National Prosecuting Authority announced that the bail application of alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe will be heard at the Cape Town High Court this morning. Last week, the court added an additional charge of terrorism to his charge sheet. Mafe was ordered to undergo a 30-day mental observation at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, following a report from the district surgeon diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia.

Demonstrators, including homeless, proclaimed his innocence outside of court. Activists under the banner ‘Free Zandile Mafe’ believe the 49-year-old’s life may be in danger, saying he is being used as a scapegoat. The case had previously been postponed to 11 February.

Meanwhile, expert investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing. Acting secretary to Parliament Baby Tyawa confirmed protection service officials are not on duty on the precinct on weekends and public holidays. She says the workers were put on rotational shifts in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tyawa appeared virtually before Parliament’s joint financial management committee on Friday to explain why there weren’t security personnel on the premises when the devastating fire broke out on the second day of the year.

Public Works minister assured that taxpayers would not be footing the bill, as all state buildings- including Parliament- are “self-insured”. The DA has called for De Lille to be removed as a minister, accusing her of downplaying her alleged complicity in the matter.


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