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

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

Zandile Mafe is a South African who came into the limelight after allegedly setting the Parliament building on fire in January 2022. Many people have questioned his intentions and what prompted him to take such a move.

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Zandile Mafe
The suspected arsonist is arraigned in court. Photo: @News24
Source: UGC

South African citizens and residents were shocked when the Parliament building was set ablaze. The Parliament is an important space where laws are made and reviewed. Shortly afterward, Zandile Mafe was unveiled as the alleged arsonist.

Zandile Mafe's profile summary

Full nameZandile Christman Mafe
Year of birth1972
Age49 years (as of 2022)
Place of birthMahikeng, North West Province, South Africa
Current residence Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa (before arrest)
NationalitySouth African
Hair colourBlack
Eye colourBlack
Ex-loverMbinde Andoni
Alma materSignal Hill Primary School, Sebopiwa Middle School, and Lapologang Secondary School

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Who is Zandile Mafe?

Zandile is a South African citizen. He came into the limelight after allegedly setting the South African Parliament building on fire. People questioned his mental health status and wondered why he did it.

What is Zandile Mafe's real name?

Zandile's full name is Zandile Christmas Mafe. He is a South African citizen by birth and has been residing in the country all his life.

How old is Zandile Mafe?

The alleged arsonist is about 49 years old as of 2022. He was born in 1972, but the day and month are undisclosed, but it is believed he was born on Christmas day from his name.

Where is Zandile Mafe from?

The alleged arsonist was born in Mahikeng, North West Province, South Africa. He lived in Langa for five years before moving to Khayelitsha, Cape Town, where he lived at the time of the alleged crime.

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Zandile Mafe's family background

The suspected arsonist's parents died when he was little. He was raised by his brothers. His mother had seven children at the time of her demise. Some of his six siblings are also late. He has a living brother called Alfred.

Educational background

Zandile went to Signal Hill Primary School and later Sebopiwa Middle School. He completed his Grade 11 education at Lapologang Secondary School. In 2000, he moved to Cape Town.

What did Zandile Mafe do?

On 2nd January 2022, a large fire razed the Houses of Parliament in the South African city of Cape Town. The flames started on the third-floor offices before quickly spreading to the National Assembly chamber.

President Ramaphosa described the incident as a terrible and devastating event. Firefighters worked for hours to extinguish it. No one was injured, but important documents got destroyed.

Zandile, the primary suspect, was allegedly arrested in the precinct shortly after the fire broke out. He allegedly entered the building through a back window. Security guards were not on watch the day the fire broke out.

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

He was arraigned in court for the first time on Tuesday, 4th January 2022. There were allegations that Zandile was homeless. His lawyer refuted these claims and affirmed his Site B Khayelitsha house was his permanent residence for the past six years.

What did people think about Zandile Mafe's Parliament fire incident?

Zandile's neighbours were not surprised he was allegedly involved in crime because they had questioned his lifestyle before. One neighbour said his house had electronics that many people in the area could not afford. These included a refrigerator, television, and satellite dish.

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Another revealed concern that he did not go to work but always had the money for rent and alcohol. In fact, he never missed a rent payment. Yet another neighbour revealed they thought he was strange, so they barely talked to him.

Neighbours from his former neighbourhood in Langa described him as a vibrant man who worked in a bread factory. He also liked talking about politics, current affairs, and corruption, so they were not surprised when politics-related paraphernalia was recovered from his Khayelitsha house.

On the other hand, Zandile Mafe's news was welcomed with disbelief by his relatives. His brother described him as a quiet and polite person who does not entertain violence. He was disappointed by the allegations levelled against his sibling.

What happened to Zandile Mafe?

Five charges were levied against the suspected arsonist, as listed below.

  • The possession of an explosive device
  • The destruction of essential infrastructure
  • Housebreaking
  • Two counts of arson

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The charge sheet indicated he was in possession of stolen laptops, crockery and documents suspected to be from the Parliament buildings. He made his first court appearance on 4th January 2022. Lawyer Luvuyo Godla represented him pro bono because he could not afford an attorney.

When the case began, National Prosecution A pushed for the suspect to be charged under Schedule 5. However, his defence insisted he must be charged under the lesser Schedule 1.

Did Zandile Mafe's bail application go through?

The arson suspect was not granted bail despite posting several applications. He has been in custody since his arrest awaiting trial.

During his time in custody, he has been admitted to a mental institution for psychiatric observation. This was after a district surgeon provisionally diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. His lawyer argued that denying him bail was violating his right to freedom.

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What is the latest development in Zandile Mafe's story?

In June 2022, Zandile's case was transferred to the High Court. His final charges were as listed below.

  • Arson and housebreaking with intent to commit arson
  • Theft
  • Contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Other Related Activities Act, alternately terrorism, alternately discharge or detonation of an explosive or lethal device

A pre-trial conference was scheduled for 12th August 2022. The Western Cape High Court postponed his pre-trial until September after he refused to come to the dock. His attorney expressed his client was incapacitated after going on a hunger strike for days.

Who is Zandile Mafe's wife?

It is unclear whether the suspected criminal has a wife, but he has a former lover named Mbinde Andoni. Andoni revealed the last time she had seen him before his arrest was on Christmas Day in 2022.

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She also revealed he was wearing the same clothes he had when he was arraigned in court. She also expressed disbelief that her former lover had done such a crime.


  • The Hawks claimed Zandile had confessed to the arson, but his attorney refuted the claims and threatened to sue the state.
  • He is surprisingly a shy person.
  • Despite being broke, being a flight risk was cited as one of the reasons he could not post bail.

Zandile Mafe is a controversial person accused of starting a fire in the South African Parliament buildings. His actions have elicited mixed feelings, and his case is ongoing at the Western Cape High Court.

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