- Supporters of Zandile Mafe, accused of starting the fire at Parliament, gathered outside court amid his latest appearance
- Mafe appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court before being referred for an assessment to determine his mental state
- Protestors called for Mafe to be released from custody, saying he was conveniently being used as a scapegoat
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CAPE TOWN - Protesters gathered outside the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in a show of support for Zandile Mafe, where the accused appeared for the second time on Tuesday.
Mafe, who has since been referred for mental observation to establish whether he is fit to stand trial, is accused of starting the fire that engulfed the National Assembly building of Parliament.
But supporters who have banded together for his release have expressed that they believe he is being used as a scapegoat and could be heard chanting, "Free Zandile!" near the court precinct as proceedings got underway.
State requests Zandile Mafe be sent for 30 days observation, Parliament fire suspect threatens hunger strike
The 49-year-old has denied the six charges that have been brought against him by the State, including terrorism. According to SowetanLIVE, he also faces two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device, housebreaking and destruction of essential infrastructure.
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'Mafe is a cover-up for corruption'
Briefly News earlier reported that Advocate Dali Mpofu has taken over from Luvuyo Godla as Mafe's senior counsel in the case. Mpofu told the court that Mafe has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, TimesLIVE reported.
Outside the court, protesters called for Mafe's immediate release. One supporter, Venecia Orgill, who feeds more than 200 homeless people, described Mafe's arrest as a cover-up for corruption.
"His arrest has been orchestrated. It's for this reason that we need to stand in solidarity. We're just all parts of a plot, which takes me right back to when I was young," said Orgill.
Dali Mpofu takes over from Luvuyo Godla as Zandile Mafe's attorney, Parliament fire suspect in court
State requests Mafe be sent for 30 days observation
Elsewhere, Briefly News earlier reported that during his court appearance on Tuesday, the State asked for Mafe to be sent for 30 days of observation at a mental institution.
While Mafe is there, professionals will ascertain if he is capable of standing trial. Mpofu said that his client would go on a hunger strike if he is denied bail because he believes he should not remain in state and police custody.
Mpofu added that Mafe will proceed with the hunger strike regardless of the repercussions which might follow. TimesLIVE reported that Mafe communicated to Mpofu that he feels there is a disconnect between the government failing to feed him before his arrest and the meals he is served in custody.
Source: Briefly News