Zandile Mafe, who is accused of starting last year’s devastating fire at the parliamentary complex in Cape Town, has been sent to a psychiatric hospital in the Eastern Cape for observation.
The Western Cape High Court ordered that Mafe be admitted to the Fort England psychiatric hospital to be psychologically observed for 30 days.
Judge Nathan Erasmus further ordered the psychiatrists at the hospital to determine whether the accused, due to mental illness and intellectual disability, is capable of understanding the court proceedings in order to make a proper defence, whether at the time of the commission of the offense he understood the wrongfulness of the act in question and whether he is accountable.
The necessary reports must be submitted to the hospital’s registrar and then shared with the state and defence, as well as with the deputy director of public prosecutions in Makhanda. This must happen by May 8.
Mafe was previously treated at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital, but claims he is being treated badly there, after which his legal team requested that he be sent to another institution.
According to Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mafe has refused to appear in court on three occasions. He also apparently demanded that he be provided with a kettle and TV. Mafe has also argued that he is on a hunger strike and has flatly refused to leave his prison cell.
At his last appearance before Judge Erasmus, he told the court that he would not go back to the Valkenburg psychiatric hospital. Mafe will be returned to Pollsmoor Prison at the end of his observation at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital. He is due back in court on May 8.
Mafe is on trial on charges of housebreaking with the intention of starting a fire, arson, terrorism and theft. The complaint stems from the fire on 2 January last year at the parliament.
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