Parliament fire: State intent on having accused admitted for mental observation

Parliament fire: State intent on having accused admitted for mental observation

Parliament fire: State intent on having accused admitted for mental observation

The State has made its intention clear to have Parliament arson accused Zandile Mafe sent for 30 days of mental observation after he was unable to appear for the pre-trial hearing at the Western Cape High Court.

On Friday, Mafe was expected to appear in person and had been transported to the high court from Pollsmoor Prison, but when he was due to appear, the court orderly informed parties that he was too weak to stand.

His lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, was sent to consult his client and was informed by Mafe that he had started another hunger strike six days earlier.

“He advised me that he is not well physically, he has been on hunger strike for a considerable period of time. Unfortunately, I did not get any information from Pollsmoor; they usually advise me when Mr Mafe embarks on a hunger strike.

“To make it even worse, he came out of prison knowing that he was not prepared to come to the courtroom as he was still in his pyjamas,” Godla said.

State advocate Mervyn Menigo and Godla then agreed to continue with proceedings in his absence before Judge Elize Steyn.

Advocate Menigo said they were still in the process of handing over a crime scene analysis report and video footage to the defence and made it known that they would push for an application to have Mafe admitted for 30-day observation at a psychiatric facility to determine whether he was fit to stand trial, referred to as a Section 78 application.

The judge then explained that this application would need to be brought before the trial judge and counsel would therefore need to have an audience with the judge president to discuss who the presiding judge would be in the matter before it goes to trial. The matter was postponed to September 2, to determine a trial date.

Godla said that what had been provided to the defence thus far was not sufficient in his view, but at this stage they would be ready to proceed with trial if need be.

The aspect of a report made by a Dr Zelda van Tonder was disputed by Godla when Menigo told the court this report had already been made available.

“The report was made available already in June of this year together with the notification of the State’s issue and intention to raise this issue on Section 78 once again because it was not satisfactory with the output by this court,” Menigo said.

Outside court, Godla said: “This is the matter that was dealt with by this honourable court, and it was a full bench so bringing it now will be just circumventing the order that was made by the full bench and bringing it through the back door.

“Provisions of the act say at any stage it could be in the middle of the trial if the court is of the view that there ought to be a referral for observation purposes that will be done.

“Ordinarily, it is always a defence that brings that application but there is nothing we can do with it, we cannot even entertain the affidavit, the evidence of Dr Van Tonder – it was set aside.

“We cannot talk about it and it will only be entertained if there are fresh facts that shed light on a reasoning that he might not be mentally capable to run a trial or appreciate what is taking place,” Godla said.

He said the outcome of Mafe’s bail appeal is still pending at the SCA.

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