Zandile Mafe inquiry: Dali Mpofu to challenge psychiatric report

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting parliament on fire. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers Archives

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting parliament on fire. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers Archives

Published Nov 3, 2023


An inquiry is underway in the Western Cape High Court on Friday to determine whether alleged Parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe is fit to stand trial.

Mafe has rejected expert opinions from both the State and defence that he is not fit to stand trial.

The inquiry is being held under Section 77 of the Criminal Procedures Act.

It is set to deal with how to handle an accused deemed unfit for trial due to a mental illness or intellectual disability.

Mafe faces charges of housebreaking with intent to commit terrorism and arson, terrorism, arson, and theft, and has been in custody since January 2 last year, after the National Assembly building in Cape Town was gutted by a fire.

Earlier this year, Mafe was sent for a psychiatric evaluation at the Fort England Psychiatric Hospital in the Eastern Cape after he refused to be admitted to Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town.

On Thursday, the court heard Mafe suffers from schizophrenia.

The provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Eric Ntabazalila said Dr TN Seshoka who headed a panel of experts at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital in the Eastern Cape, which observed Mafe from March 29, 2023, to May 24, 2023, told the court that the panel has recommended for Mafe to be admitted at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital to receive treatment and rehabilitation.

Seshoka said Mafe had been admitted to the maximum security section of the hospital and was observed by a panel of clinicians.

The court heard Mafe’s observation was extended as it was a struggle to get information from him, but managed to get his cooperation after some time.

The clinicians diagnosed Mafe with schizophrenia which is a mental disorder.

Among the symptoms, they also stated Mafe has prosecutorial delusion where he believes that the President of the Republic, members of his cabinet, and other government employees are planning to kill black people.

He also told the panel that there were taxi owners and drivers who were organised to kill them and their families.

Some of their family members were already murdered which Dr Seshoka and his panel saw as a delusion.

They also concluded that he suffered from auditory hallucinations after he told them that he heard other patients talking about him and they were jealous of his hair and hairstyle. Dr Seshoka explained that was impossible as patients were accommodated in separate rooms.

Mafe’s defence, Advocate Dali Mpofu indicated he would challenge the report. However, he confirmed the private psychiatrist hired by Mafe’s legal team came to the same conclusion as this panel of experts.

Mpofu submitted he would be criticising the composition of the panel, and the compilation of the report and would argue that a report that consists of two sentences cannot be the report that was envisaged by the Act.

The hearing continues.

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