CAPE TOWN, Feb. 01 — The man who is suspected of setting fire to the South African Parliament early this month allegedly used boxes, paper, and petrol worth 10 rands (about 0.64 U.S. dollars) to start the fire, which eventually gutted parliament buildings in the legislative capital Cape Town, read a statement of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa.
The prosecution alleged Zandile Christmas Mafe, the suspect, “purchased petrol in a bottle, made his way to Parliament, using stealth, broke into Parliament and after spending some time in Parliament, used boxes, paper, and the petrol to set parliament alight causing devastating damage to the facility,” said the statement issued on Sunday, which told the proceeding of Mafe’s bail application at Cape Town Regional Court on Saturday.
The prosecution opposed the application.
The 49-year-old, who is charged with housebreaking with intent to commit terrorism and arson, terrorism, arson, and theft, could face life imprisonment if convicted.
While Mafe pleaded not guilty, an affidavit of an investigating officer submitted by the prosecution said Mafe had confessed that he committed the crime because he wanted South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign with immediate effect, demanded the release of Janus Waluz, a convicted murderer in the assassination of former South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani in 1993.
The parliament fire starting in the morning on Jan. 2 lasted more than 70 hours, severely damaging the building of the National Assembly (NA), the lower house, and completely burning down the NA chamber. It also caused extensive damage to the century-old Old Assembly building that houses the National Council of Provinces, the upper house.
The affidavit said Mafe appeared to be pleased with himself after he was shown a video clip of the burning parliament and voluntarily pointed out a petrol station where he purchased petrol for 10 rands, as well as the gate and window he used to enter the parliament.
Bail judgment will be delivered on Feb. 4, according to the statement.
The fire forced the parliament to move its flagship program, the State of the Nation Address, to be delivered by Ramaphosa on Feb. 10, from the NA chamber to the historic City Hall of Cape Town.
Geordin Hill-Lewis, Cape Town mayor, will on Monday officially hand over the City Hall to Parliament’s Presiding Officers. (Xinhua)