Alleged arsonist of the South African Parliament accused of “terrorism”

The prosecution on Tuesday accused the suspect of having caused the fire of January 2 in the South African Parliament with “terrorism”, while the voices that demand the release of this homeless person presented as a scapegoat multiply.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, appeared in a Cape Town court on Tuesday.

Mafe was arrested on Sunday in the Parliament compound and three days later he was indicted in a short court hearing.

According to a court document seen by AFP, the prosecution added on Tuesday the crime of “violating the provisions of (…) protection of constitutional democracy against terrorism and related activities.”

Previously, the suspect was also accused of breaking into the huge building in the center of Cape Town, “setting fire to the Parliament building” and having stolen “laptops, dishes and documents”.

Since his arrest, various voices have singled him out as a scapegoat and attribute the event to a lack of security and problems in fire prevention systems.

“Free Mafe!” or “He’s innocent!” some thirty protesters shouted in court Tuesday before the hearing.

According to the first reports from the South African authorities, the fire detection system was “faulty”.

“The fire sprinklers did not work” and the last overhaul of the system was conducted in 2017 because an inspection scheduled for February 2020 did not take place, these reports indicated.

South African firefighters took 48 hours before fully controlling the fire that swept through the area where the National Assembly meets. The fire did not cause any casualties.

ger-sn / jhd / dbh / zm

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