Release Arson Accused Mafe From Valkenberg, Orders Hlophe

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The High Court in Cape Town on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe from Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital so that he can exercise his right to apply for bail.

Western Cape Judge President, John Hlophe ruled on Tuesday that the magistrate’s earlier order to refer the 49-year-old arson accused to the psychiatric hospital for a 30-day observation was “unlawful and irregular”.

Presiding over Mafe’s challenge of the magistrate’s order, Judge President Hlophe said the Mafe had been unlawfully denied a bail hearing and was instead sent for observation.

In the initial challenge of the order on Saturday, Advocate Dali Mpofu SC representing Mafe warned that his client would embark on a hunger strike until he was released on bail.

On Tuesday, Judge President Hlophe averted the possible crisis when he and two other judges reviewed Cape Town Magistrate Zamekile Mbalo’s ruling and set aside the 30-day mental observation order.

Hlophe ordered Mafe’s immediate release from Valkenberg so that the arson accused can be given an opportunity to apply for bail.

He said the accused should be held in an ordinary correctional facility until his bail hearing.

Parliament caught alight in the early hours of Monday, 3 January, and continued to burn for two days before firefighters could douse the flames – by then parts of the roof had caved in and cracks had appeared on some walls.

Jobless Mafe, who was arrested hours after the fire was reported, faces several charges including theft, unlawful possession of an explosive device, terrorism, arson, and breaking and entering.