Who is Zandile Mafe? What we know so far about the alleged parliament arsonist

Who is Zandile Mafe? What we know so far about the alleged parliament arsonist

Mzansi got to know Zandile Mafe after his arraignment in court on Tuesday, 4th January 2022. He is allegedly the man behind the fire that gutted the South African Parliament on 2nd January 2022. His arrest has stirred controversy on social media, as netizens are conflicted on whether he is behind the arson. While we wait for updates on the case, how about unpacking details about the alleged suspect?

Who is Zandile Mafe? What we know so far about the alleged parliament arsonist
Zandile Mafe in court on 4th January 2022. Photo: @Npk Twice
Source: Facebook

Zandile Mafe's face was unveiled on the TV screens on Tuesday, 4th January 2022. Since then, his neighbours and family have spoken to the media, trying to chime in on the matter. While they disagree on the charges he is likely to face, they describe him and his life.

Zandile Mafe's profile summary

  • First name: Zandile
  • Second name: Christmas
  • Surname: Mafe
  • Full name: Zandile Christmas Mafe
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 49 years
  • Place of birth: Mahikeng, North West
  • Current residence: Cape Town
  • Nationality: South African
  • Hair colour: Black
  • Eye colour: Black
  • Brothers: Alfred Matiwane and Zamile Matiwane

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Zandile Mafe's biography

Zandile Mafe is an unassuming man who resides in Cape Town. He faces charges for starting the fire that razed down the South African parliament. He was arraigned in court for the first time on Tuesday, 4th January 2022.

Zandile Mafe's real name

According to his family, his real name is Zandile Christian Mafe.

Zandile Mafe's age

The alleged arsonist is forty-nine years old.

Zandile Mafe's place of birth

According to Zandile Mafe's brothers, the accused hails from Mahikeng, North West. He lived in Langa for five years before relocating to Khayelitsha. Most people who knew him when he lived in Langa know him by his second name.

Zandile Mafe's wife

It is unclear whether Mafe had a wife. However, his former lover, Mbinde Andoni, was interviewed and stated she last saw him on Christmas Day. She also revealed that he was wearing the same clothes he had when he was arraigned in court. Andoni defended him, saying,

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He was sleeping on the streets. How would he know how to get into Parliament, what important areas and documents to burn? It doesn’t add up,

Is Zandile Mafe homeless or undercover?

Who is Zandile Mafe's special ops
Is Zandile Mafe homeless or undercover? Photo: @Lutho Mjuleka
Source: Facebook

On 3rd January 2022, detectives and the media raided his house in Khayelitsha, looking for evidence linking him to the parliament fire. They found political newspaper articles from the 1980s, an ANC T-shirt, and posters demanding the release of Janusz Walus, who was sentenced for Chris Hani's assassination. This paraphernalia, alongside his identity documents, were recovered in a bag in his house.

His lawyer refuted claims of his client being homeless, affirming that he has a permanent resident and that has lived in the Western Cape in the past six years.

How Zandile Mafe's neighbours in Khayelitsha describe him

His neighbours in Khayelitsha were suspicious of Zandile Mafe's possessions. He owned a refrigerator, satellite dish and television, things that people who work and live in that area do not have. They also revealed that he had the money for alcohol and often drank alone. His next-door neighbour revealed that she never saw him working, but he never missed a rent payment.

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Another next-door neighbour, Maggie Base, described Mafe as strange and rarely spoke to him. She mentioned she was bothered by his behaviour and had even raised a complaint to the landlord, saying,

He is weird. He would sweep the yard and the street. I reported him to his landlord. I was concerned he did not act sane. The landlord told me he is very educated. I left it at that,

Zandile Mafe allegedly relocated to Khayelitsha in August 2021.

How Zandile Mafe's neighbours in Langa describe him

Unlike Khayelitsha, his neighbours in Langa seemed fonder of Zandile Mafe. They described him as a vibrant man who liked talking about current affairs and corruption.

According to Doreen Lekoma, Zandile used to work for a bread company, although he lost the job in early 2021. His neighbours in Langa alleged that his passion for politics explains why political paraphernalia was recovered in his house in Khayelitsha.

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Zandile Mafe's family' reaction

His family members were in disbelief when they heard of the accusations. His brother, Alfred Matiwane, was interviewed by SABC News, and he described him as a reserved, polite and loner who does not entertain violence. He also expressed his disappointment in the accusations levelled against his brother.

His other brother, Zaliwe Matiwane, told SABC News that his brother was being wrongfully prosecuted and that the family needs to be told what happened before his arrest.

Zandile Mafe's case

Who is Zandile Mafe? What we know so far about the alleged parliament arsonist
The South African parliament is on fire. Photo: @Mandlenkosi Ka Phangwa
Source: Facebook

According to the National Prosecuting Authority, Mafe is being charged with the possession of an explosive device, the destruction of essential infrastructure, housebreaking and two counts of arson. According to his charge sheet, Zandile was reportedly found in possession of stolen laptops, crockery and documents, which he reportedly stole from the parliament.

According to claims, Zandile was spotted at the parliamentary district on 2nd January 2022. He was allegedly arrested in the precinct shortly after the fire outbreak.

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"He is a scapegoat"

Luvuyo Godla stated that he was representing Zandile Mafe on a pro-bono basis since he is a poor man. He also denied the charges levelled against his client, saying,

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,

It is alleged that advocate Dali Mpofu will join the legal team, although Godla has not confirmed or denied this.

The National Prosecution A is pushing for Zandile Mafe to be charged for Schedule 5. However, his defence insists he must be charged under the lesser Schedule 1. The NPA also insinuated that Mafe might face additional charges.


On Saturday, 8th January 2022, Weekend Argus reported that the Hawks unit had told Zandile Mafe's family about his confession to the crime while in police custody. However, Godla refuted the claims stating that his client had not said anything to the authorities. Godla threatened to sue the state if his client is released.

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Zandile Mafe's political party

According to the paraphernalia recovered in his house, he might be a supporter of the ANC.

Zandile Mafe's story has stirred controversy in the country. Social media users have expressed their opinions, claiming that he is innocent. He will be arraigned in court on Tuesday, 11th January 2022.

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Source: Briefly News

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