The handling of the Zandile Mafe case continues to cause a stir. This time, police and officials at the Western Cape High Court have refused to let almost all media into Mafe’s urgent bail application. Mafe faces charges of arson and terrorism and is accused of starting the fire that left Parliament severely gutted and with an estimated 200 million worth of damages.

Journalists argue with police after being denied access into court. Video: Storm Simpson / The South African

With huge national interest in Mafe’s case, court officials caused outrage as they insisted that only two journalists could be let into the courtroom. No broadcast journalists were allowed access. This meant that the proceedings could not be shown or heard live on radio or TV.

The main front door was closed after only two journalists were allowed access. Security guards then blocked all access through the door. A while later, a handful of other journalists from Independent Media and Netwerk24 managed to secure access.

The rest, including TheSouthAfrican’s own Storm Simpson were left outside despite their applications.

Photo: Storm Simpson / The South African

Who is Zandile Mafe?

Not much is known about Mafe. We do know that he has been sent by the court for a 30-day mental observation. This will allow the judge to make a decision as to whether he is fit to stand trial.

He has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The state is adamant that Mafe was found with an explosive device, and made off with laptops and several documents from Parliament. Mafe’s legal team say he is being made a scapegoat for the state.

Despite initial reports, he is not homeless. His legal team have confirmed that he has lived in the Western Cape for 6 years. He has a home in the Khayelitsha area. Despite this, his neighbours have told other media that he left his home a week before the fire at Parliament.

Mafe has threatened a hunger strike over possible time in jail.

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