Zandile Mafe’s no-show gives court a headache

Zandile Mafe, who is accused of setting Parliament on fire, has been in prison since his arrest in January.       Photo by Misheck Makora
Zandile Mafe, who is accused of setting Parliament on fire, has been in prison since his arrest in January. Photo by Misheck Makora

THE Parliament arson suspect, Zandile Christmas Mafe, has refused to appear in court for his pre-trial in the Western Cape High Court on Friday 27 January.

This is the third time that Mafe has behaved this way.

In the first instance, Mafe was supposed to attend a pre-trial conference but refused to come out of the holding cells of the high court. He told court orderlies that he was dragged out of his holding cells at Pollsmoor and forced to go to court while in pyjamas.

In the second instance, he refused to attend the second pre-trial conference. He refused to leave his Pollsmoor cells, demanding that he be given a TV set, a radio, and a kettle to listen to and watch the news.

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On 27 January the prosecutor, Advocate Mervyn Menigo, told the court that several prison officials including the head of Pollsmoor Prison attempted to persuade the accused to get out of his prison cell, but he refused. This time Mafe didn’t give reasons for his refusal.

Mafe’s lawyer Luvuyo Godla said he last consulted with his client on Tuesday 24 January. He said Mafe didn’t tell him that he was not going to attend the court, and he was also surprised by his client’s absence.

Godla requested the court to have Mafe sent for mental observation. He said he consulted with him, and he understood and indicated that he’d cooperate to be sent for mental observation.

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Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo, however, said he couldn’t send Mafe for mental observation in his absence. The judge suggested that the next pre-trial conference set for 10 February be held at Pollsmoor Prison Court so that Mafe could attend.

Godla was, however, skeptical about whether Mafe will attend the court even when held at Pollsmoor Prison Court.

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