SA parliament fire suspect being freed from hospital

A man accused of setting fire to South Africa’s parliament is being released from a psychiatric hospital and moved to a regular prison from where he can request bail.

This follows a decision by a high court which said that Zandile Christmas Mafe’s referral to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Town to undergo 30 days of the evaluation was unlawful.

Prosecutors said they had a report that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia – a diagnosis both he and his lawyers have rubbished.

“The further detention of Mr Mafe in Valkenberg is unlawful and should come to an end with immediate effect,” Judge President John Hlophe said on Tuesday, ordering he be moved on Wednesday morning.

The 49-year-old has denied setting the parliament building in Cape Town ablaze.

Mr Mafe faces a few charges, including arson and terrorism. Prosecutors say he detonated explosives in parliament that totally destroyed the National Assembly, or lower chamber, earlier this month.

But his legal team have said he is being used as a scapegoat by a prosecution rushing to get a conviction. He is due to apply for bail on Saturday.

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