51-year-old Zandile Christmas Mafe is a homeless man who has been seen taking rest outside parliament. President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that Mafe was taken in for questioning on January 5. He is being accused of starting the fire that caused major damage to the parliament building which broke out on January 2 this year.
The Hawks confirmed that the suspect was not a parliament employee and simply gained access to the precinct through a back window.
On the same day of Mafe’s questioning, a fire report was released by the City of Cape Town.
Station Commander JJ Williams’s said that during his walk around the affected areas, he found that the National Assembly sprinkler valve was not serviced and the valve appeared to be closed. It was supposed to have been serviced in 2017 and this needs to be done every three years.
The sprinkler system is one of many safety elements that were not in running order. Also, fire doors were locked in an open position using latches.
The cause of the fire has still not been disclosed.
An alleged confession:
On January 8, Zandile Christmas Mafe allegedly confessed to starting the fire.
The homeless man is reported to have told a “high-level source in the Hawks” that he started the blaze.
The source, who declined to be named told IOL that Mafe confessed and even “showed us how he started the fire.” But he allegedly does not want to disclose how he gained access to the building.
According to the unnamed “high-level source in the Hawks”, there is no video footage of Mafe entering the building. There is allegedly only footage of him “leaving through a window where he was found by cops.”
Mafe’s lawyer Luvuyo Godla insisted the confession was coerced and would not stand up in a court of law. Godla says that Mafe was put under duress to force a confession out of him. “The court proceedings were flawed and I am yet to receive copies of the charge sheet.”
The hawks allegedly visited Mafe’s brother Zamile Matiwane on Friday. They told him that his brother (Mafe) confessed but the Hawks could not present any evidence when asked to do so by Matiwane.
Matiwane said that he does not believe the allegations and that authorities are trying to pin the fire on his brother.
Godla added his client was not read his rights ahead of the confession being obtained.
Mafe is being charged with two counts of arson, theft, housebreaking, contravening explosives act. The National Prosecuting Authority indicated that more charges could be added.
Meanwhile, the Hawks are yet to present any evidence pertaining to the allegations made.
Luvuyo Godla emphasised that Mafe is overwhelmed and confused. Just this week his client told the Weekend Argus, from Pollsmoor Prison, that he is innocent.
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“I did not do it and I am not a mad man. I am not sad that Parliament burnt down because it does not do anything to alleviate my life and those of people like me.”
According to Mafe, he was inside Parliament early because he wanted to be first in the queue when the soup kitchen opened.
Zandile Mafe’s lawyer kicks back:
Now, on January 9, Godla plans to challenge the alleged confession made by his client (who is expected in court this coming Tuesday).
According to the lawyer, Mafe doesn’t even know what a confession is. He says that had to explain what this meant to his client.
Both Mafe and Godla seem equally confused.
Godla again told IOL today that he doesn’t know what confession was made “because in order for a confession to take place you need a certain police officer there, or the magistrate.”
This was allegedly not the case, which means that he could have given a statement that incriminates him. However Godla adds that this won’t stand in a court of law because he wasn’t informed and also did not receive a charge sheet.
Godla has given the prosecutor on the case, Adnaan Gelderbloem, until Monday before midday to present the charge sheet or they “shall have no other option but to take further necessary steps.”
According to Luvuyo Godla, this is not the first time correct protocol has been thrown to the wind.
He says that “according to the Criminal Procedure Act, you have to bring a suspect to court within 48 hours after arrest, you have to inform them why they have been arrested and why he is appearing. None of this was done, that is why he looked confused in court.”
Godla means business. He intends to sue the state, to go court and fight because “someone with resources and an agenda is using this poor man to protect themselves and their interests.”
Mafe’s lawyer aded that they will work with psychologists and then the actuaries to determine the exact amount they are suing for.
Godla also confirmed that he is “in talks” with former EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu to join his team in representing Mafe in court.
Godla represented the EFF seven years ago. He is defending Mafe pro bono and allegedly has not received any instruction from the EFF.
After the parliament fire, the EFF motioned to move parliament to Johannesburg — a request which raised further questions and conspiracies about the origin and intention of the blaze.
Speaking to the ever-growing list of conspiracies, the Hawks told the Weekend Argus that the accused is not a former spy whose ‘real’ name is Kgosi Herbert Rammu.