‘Why would a vagrant burn down parliament?’: Politicians weigh in on alleged arsonist
Several politicians and public figures have weighed in on the arrest of alleged arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe in connection with the fire that broke out in parliament over the weekend.
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 Point Act.
Attorney Luvuyo Godla, who is representing Mafe, alleged his client 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 told media outside the court.
He argued that Mafe was unemployed but not a flight risk. Nor is he homeless.
“He is a person with a fixed address. He has been in the Western Cape for more than six years,” said Godla.
Weighing in on the matter, DA leader John Steenhuisen said no scapegoating would be allowed.
“We notice an arrest has been made and we welcome it, but we must not allow scapegoating to take place. Police will probably remember what happened during the break-in at the chief justice office, where there was suddenly a flurry of high-profile arrests. Those cases frittered away and the suspects have never been heard from again,” Steenhuisen said.
He said the DA would get to the bottom of why the parliament fire was started, how it spread, what systems were working and what systems were not.
Taking to social media, transport minister Fikile Mbalula questioned why a “vagrant” would “wake up and burn down parliament”.
Why would a" vagrant" wakeup and burndown parliament?— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 4, 2022
He said the idea of a “homeless vagrant” vandalising the National Assembly building was not far-fetched, but he wanted to know the logic behind it.
“I remember not so long ago they burnt more than 18 train sets at Cape Town station. Guess who was arrested? Kids. The syndicate used kids for their nefarious deeds. We offered the public a big prize. They brought kids who confessed to the act,” said Mbalula.
“In Braamfontein, Johannesburg they burnt train sets, again similar to what we are seeing today. It was a vagrants/homeless people. The motive for burning trains was clear: to paralyse Prasa [Passenger Rail Agency of SA]. We need to understand the motive for burning parliament to project the country into chaos.”
What is important though we have an alleged suspect who look like a "homeless vagrant" the police will give evidence in court why they link him directly to the arson.— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 4, 2022
Project the country in a state of chaos and ungovernerbillity,Am not worried about this chap who is under arrest am interested to kno why will anyone burn parliament.— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 4, 2022
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Jacob Zuma’s daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla also weighed in on the arrest.
Here is what they and others had to say:
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!pic.twitter.com/sQ0t8A43ah— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) January 4, 2022
So this Man beat every security system of Ramaphosa Parliament to switching off water sprinklers burn the Building and walked out, suddenly the intelligent @SAPoliceService traced him and arrested him. Only fools will be fooled. #FreeZandileMafe pic.twitter.com/v2fldkXnXs— Battalion 54 (@54Battalion) January 4, 2022
Minister De Lille confirmed the CCTV cameras were working Sunday morning. We would like to see video evidence of Zandile Mafe in the parliament precinct and also starting the fire that destroyed parliament. Something doesn’t add up here and we can’t keep quiet. pic.twitter.com/Sm59FWgKy1— Vuyo Zungula MP 🇿🇦 (@ZungulaVuyo) January 4, 2022
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