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South Africa’s fire suspect charged with terrorism

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South Africa

In South Africa, the main suspect in the Parliament's fire in early January was charged this Tuesday for terrorism.

Forty-nine year old Zandile Mafe appeared in court for the second time since he was arrested on the day of the fire.

Last week the suspect was charged with housebreaking with intent to steal, theft, two counts of arson and possession of an explosive device.

The suspect's lawyer believes that his client needs to be observed by medical experts.

"To our surprise, only this morning, as you heard the council And only this morning the revealed it for the very first time that my client was assessed, and there is documentation to that regard, he will have be referred for mental observation", said Luvuyo Godla, lawyer for Zandile Mafe.

The spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Eric Ntabazalila, added:

"We did not intend to ambush the accused with that letter. The fact of the matter is that the accused was sent for observation and the observation came back saying that the accused suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, that's why we requested the court to ask for him to be sent to a psychiatric hospital for observation for the obvious reasons, which are: we don't see it as proper to continue with the bail application while the accused might be considered not to be fit to understand, or be given instructions", he said. 

Many however do not believe the authorities and want to see the suspect freed.

This is the case of Mafe's supporter, Venetia Orgill. 

"I am here to stand in solidarity for Zandile Christmas Mafe because I believe he is innocent. Personally I believe he is innocent, I know him to an extent, I am not friends with him but I do feed him from time to time as a homeless person in Cape Town. So this is the reason I am here today" she said.

The fire started at dawn in January 2nd and it destroyed the main chamber of the National Assembly where deputies sit. 

It took four days for the fire to be completely extinguished.

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