South Africa

Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe declared not fit to stand trial

Parliament fire Zandile Mafe trial Judge Nathan Erasmus

Mafe was diagnosed with a psychotic spectrum disorder which is likely to be schizophrenia.

Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe will not stand trial after the Western Cape High Court ruled he is not fit to do so.

Delivering his judgment on Monday, Judge Nathan Erasmus ruled that Mafe’s psychiatric report complied with the Criminal Procedure Act.

Erasmus highlighted that Mafe was labeled as “delusional” while his behaviour was described as “strange and inappropriate” in some instances as stated by the report.

The judge said the suspect was diagnosed by doctors with a psychotic spectrum disorder which is likely to be schizophrenia.

ALSO READ: Zandile Mafe asks for life sentence, says he’ll be president in 25 years

He also pointed out to Mafe’s testimony in court during his inquiry to determine his fitness to stand trial.

“I attempted to listen attentively to what Mr Mafe had to say. Sometimes I wasn’t sure whether he was on point and other times it was clear as crystal, but I’m not going to draw to any inferences,” he said.

Erasmus said he was of the view that he can rely on the report after hearing arguments from the state and the defence in the inquiry.

“Mr Mafe is not capable of understanding the proceedings as so as to make a proper defence and therefore, my finding is in concurrence with the experts that he is unfit to stand trial,” the judge ruled.

Additional arguments

On Monday, the state and the defence made additional arguments before the judgment was delivered.

Erasmus had given the parties a chance to file supplementary notes when Mafe’s case was postponed for judgment on 2 November.

“We are indebted to the court for granting us more,” Mafe’s lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu said.

READ MORE: Alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe intends to sue government

The advocate questioned whether the psychiatric report on Mafe, who has been custody at the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, complied with the requirements of the law that determines fitness to stand trial.

“We are talking about the substance, not the form of whether we do have such a report,” the defence lawyer told the court.

Mpofu argued that his client was fit to stand trial and was able to give instructions to his legal team.

Mafe assessed by several psychiatrists

The defence had disputed the findings of the report compiled, which recommended that Mafe be admitted to a psychiatric facility for treatment.

The suspect was assessed by two psychiatrists and a psychologist during his 30-day mental assessment at Fort England Hospital in Eastern Cape.

But his legal team requested that the suspect be evaluated by an independent specialist, who came to the same conclusion on the schizophrenia diagnosis.

Last year, Mafe was admitted to Valkenberg Hospital, but was later released after his defence succesfully applied for a review of his referral.

The suspect has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that he was mentally ill despite his erratic behaviour during court appearances, including him admitting to burning the Parliament building and making threats to Erasmus.

He was charged with housebreaking with intent to commit arson, arson, terrorism and theft in connection with the Parliament fire on 2 January 2022, which destroyed the Old and New Assembly buildings.

NOW READ: Parly fire: ‘They must be shot and killed’ − Mafe bursts into tirade threatening judges