S. Africa: Alleged parliament arsonist charged with “terrorism”
The convict was primarily charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal.
As he made his second appearance in court on Tuesday, a South African court charged a man suspected of igniting a deadly fire that burned South Africa's parliament with “terrorism”, in addition to robbery and arson charges.
After the fire broke out on January 2, Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, was arrested near the parliament complex and appeared in court three days later.
Mafe was primarily charged with breaking into parliament, arson, and intention to steal property, including laptops, crockery, and documents, before the new terrorist allegation was filed Tuesday.
The "accused is guilty of the offense of contravening the provisions of... the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities", according to a court document.
The prosecution spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said during a court recess that "we have added a sixth charge... the accused detonated a device inside parliament".
Since his arrest, there has been much debate in South Africa about whether Mafe, who was characterized as homeless by local media, was the one who set the building on fire.
A group of about 30 people demonstrated outside the Cape Town magistrate court, demanding that Mafe be released, holding signs that said "Free Mafe," "He is innocent," and "He is not guilty."
A major fire erupted in the historic South African parliament building in the capital, Cape Town, on January 2.
The alarm was raised at 5 am, and the 36 fighters that were on the scene requested even more resources to control the blaze, which was eventually put under control after hours of work.
No one was seriously injured in the fire.
Cape Town's historic parliament building consists of three sections: The oldest was completed in 1884, with the newer additions constructed in the 1920s and 1980s housing the National Assembly.
The fire started in the building's third-floor offices, but the reason behind remains unknown to this hour.
This unfortunate event comes only a day after the funeral of South-African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town.