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South African parliament fire suspect appears in court

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South Africa

The man accused of setting fire to South Africa's parliament was back in a Cape Town court Friday. Zandile Mafe faces charges of housebreaking, theft and arson after a January 2nd blaze destroyed the parliamentary complex in Cape Town.

Prosecution lawyers told court Friday that facial recognition experts had positively identified Mafe from video footage collected on the day of the fire.

"The facial recognition has been confirmed. The report has come back and has positively confirmed it was him who was in Parliament on the day. That report is with us but more information on it will be mentioned during the trial," said Eric Ntabzalila, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman

Mafe's defense lawyer said he would wait for the forensics report in order to verify the findings. Mafe was arrested by police who found him jumping from one of the building's windows on the day of the fire. 

He has denied the charges. 

"We heard for the first time that some experts filed a report, identifying his face positively and many other more things we don't know we still need to be placed only when we are placed in possession of those pieces of reports. Then we will be able to look at the veracity of same and authenticity of everything that we will be given," said Luvoyo Godla.

The fire caused significant damage in the Parliament building which delayed the work of the forensics team that was only able to access the site last week.

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