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Four things you need to know about alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe

05 January 2022 - 12:43
Zandile Mafe, the man suspected of setting parliamentary buildings alight, appeared in the Cape Town magistrate's court on Tuesday.
Zandile Mafe, the man suspected of setting parliamentary buildings alight, appeared in the Cape Town magistrate's court on Tuesday.
Image: Esa Alexander

Alleged arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe made headlines this week after his arrest in connection with the fire that ravaged parliament.

Mafe appeared in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where his case was postponed to January 11 for further investigation.

He faces charges of housebreaking, theft and arson and further charges under the National Key Points Act.

Here is what you need to know about Mafe.

Not homeless 

It was initially reported the 49-year-old from Khayelitsha was homeless, but his lawyer Luvuyo Godla dismissed the claims.

Godla said Mafe resided in Khayelitsha, Site B. 

“He is a person with a fixed address. He has been in the Western Cape for more than six years,” said Godla.

Poor and without assets 

Godla said Mafe was a “poor man” and he was representing him on a pro-bono basis. 

“For now, I don’t even have a cent. What compelled me to defend this chap is because he raised his hand,” said Godla. 

“He does not have assets but that doesn’t make him a flight risk.”

There is speculation advocate Dali Mpofu will be added to the legal team, but Godla did not confirm or deny this.

‘Shy guy’

Mafe’s neighbour, Wendy Luhabe, told TimesLIVE  he is a “shy guy”. 

“He wanted a place to stay so we referred him that side. Always on Thursday he picked up papers and cleaned the street,” she said. 

According to Daily Voice, neighbour Maggie Basse said Mafe is a loner. 

“He is a loner, keeps to himself. All you ever hear is when he greets and that is it,” she said.

Caught with explosive device

According to Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, Mafe was also charged with possession of an explosive device.

The state also alleged Mafe stole laptops, crockery and documents from parliament.

However, Godla denied this and claimed Mafe is a “scapegoat” for failures of the executive and legislature.

“How would that person get access to parliament, and how would he know where to go in parliament and burn [the building]? He’s clearly a scapegoat. This is a failure of the executive and legislature, not that poor person,” Godla said


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