S.African Court Postpones Trial of Alleged Parliament Arsonist | World News

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – A South African court on Friday postponed to May a criminal case against the man accused of torching the national parliament in January because investigators were unable to ascertain the cost of damages due to a waterlogged crime scene, prosecutors said.

Zandile Mafe, arrested at the scene of the devastating fire, faces several charges including arson, theft and terrorism and was denied bail in February. Mafe denies the charges.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said that “50 tonnes” of water in the basement of parliament first needed to be cleared for forensic investigators to determine the costs and damages – a key aspect when dealing with arson and terrorism charges.

“This is a complex investigation which has resulted in unforeseen delays which are not in the hands of the investigating team,” an NPA statement said.

Prosecutors added that a positive facial recognition report was received and the state would have a draft indictment and summary of facts ready at the next court appearance, May 12, where a High Court date might also be agreed.

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Mafe’s defence team intends to challenge his failed bail application in a higher division and the state will oppose, the NPA said. Mafe faces a lengthy jail term should he be found guilty.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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