On Friday the alleged parliament arsonist, 49-year-old Zandile Mafe, will hear if he will be granted bail to go home. As part of his attempt to secure bail last week, Mafe took the stand to testify in the proceedings.
Led by his defence council, advocate Dali Mpofu, Mafe said he was no threat to society and if given bail he would return to his house in Khayelitsha and watch DStv until his trial begins.
During his testimony, the public learnt that Mafe has had a stutter since his schooling days in Mahikeng in the North West. He had left Mahikeng after school in search of work and had lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Gqeberha before moving to Cape Town in 2014. In the Mother City he found a job at a bakery but on February 14 2018 he lost his job.
Mafe said it was all downhill from there and he ended up carrying people’s groceries from the shop to their cars.
He said he had never been diagnosed with any mental health issues — in contrast to the finding of the state medical health examiner who diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia after his arrest — and he denied ever setting foot inside parliament, let alone torching it.However, during cross-examination, state prosecutor Mervyn Menigo alleged that Mafe had set fire to parliament and even confessed to setting the buildings alight.
Menigo said after Mafe’s arrest, he had told the investigating officer that he would commit more crimes if he was free and that he had started the fire in support of three demands:
- the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa by January 8;
- the release of Chris Hani’s murderer, Janusz Walus, on February 11; and
- a R1,500 grant for all unemployed people.
Magistrate Michelle Adams will deliver her bail judgment in the Cape Town regional court on Friday after a gruelling eight-hour bail hearing last Saturday.
The case has received nationwide interest and a small group of protesters calling for Mafe’s release were outside court last Saturday.