Zandile Mafe returns to court on Tuesday, after spending the last nine days behind bars. The 49-year-old was arrested on Sunday 2 January, accused of starting the devastating Parliament fire that destroyed the National Assembly.

  • We’ve got all the live updates here, as the state’s prime suspect appears in the dock:

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Guilty or innocent? The many contradictions of Zandile Mafe

We can expect this case to drag on for quite a while – even if we’re unable to guess which direction it’s heading in. That’s because the early details are littered with contradictory claims and confusing accounts of what really happened.

Mafe has been living at a dwelling in Khayelitsha, but he’s often referred to as homeless. Pictures of him lying down outside Parliament emerged, just moments after he allegedly burnt down the building. His neighbours have described his odd behaviour, but family members dispute these accounts.

We’ve already been subjected to a tedious back and forth about who the real Zandile Mafe actually is. That’s why today is so important – it gives the court a chance to establish some more facts and concrete details, about both the Parliament fire and the main suspect.

Parliament fire suspect returns to court on Tuesday 11 January

Mafe last appeared in court on Tuesday 4 January – exactly one week ago – where he protested his innocence. Today, he will be fighting to secure bail.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the 49-year-old suspect from Khayelitsha is charged with housebreaking, two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device and destruction of essential infrastructure.

According to a charge sheet seen by The South African, Zandile Mafe was allegedly found in possession of property that belongs to the state, including laptops, crockery and documents, when he was arrested on Sunday. The prosecution is continuing to build its case.

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