South African parliament fire suspect charged with terrorism


South Africa
After his first court appearance the man suspected to have to started the fire at the South African Parliament was diagnosed with "paranoid schizophrenia." (Xabiso Mkhabel/AA/Picture Alliance)

Tuesday, South African prosecutors charged the man accused of igniting the fire that destroyed portions of the country's parliament complex with terrorism.

The 49-year-old was already charged with five other offenses, including arson, theft, and housebreaking, when the terrorism allegation was added during his bail application in the Cape Town Magistrates Court.

According to a court document viewed by the AFP news agency, the "accused is guilty of the offense of contravening the provisions of...the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities,"

He was arrested on parliamentary grounds last Sunday when the fire broke out. According to the prosecution, the additional allegation of terrorism was added after he was apprehended carrying an explosive device.

A well-known South African lawyer joins the fray.

After his arrest, the suspect underwent psychiatric treatment and was diagnosed with "paranoid schizophrenia," defense attorney Dali Mpofu testified.

Mpofu is a well-known lawyer in South Africa, having defended several prominent figures, including former President Jacob Zuma.

Additionally, he served as the former national chairman of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party.

Mpofu informed the court that his client intended to embark on a hunger strike unless bail was granted.

"He is not prepared to trade his liberty for food," Mpofu stated.

Protesters demanded the suspect's release outside the courthouse, claiming he was being used as a scapegoat.

The case has been rescheduled until 11 February.

Legislators to convene in a different location

President Cyril Ramaphosa's annual State of the Nation Address, which serves as the official inauguration of parliament, will now be held in February in Cape Town's City Hall.

Former President Nelson Mandela delivered his first public address from the balcony of the city hall following his release from jail in 1990.

"The extensive damage has necessitated the institution to find an alternative venue off-site to host this important event in the parliamentary calendar and the country," parliament stated in a statement.

Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze for more than two days, which destroyed the national assembly chamber where parliamentary discussions are placed.

According to a preliminary study released last week by the city of Cape Town, the fire detection system looked to be "faulty," and "sprinklers did not activate."

There were no reported casualties in the fire.

Publish : 2022-01-11 18:07:00

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