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Suspect in South African parliament fire charged with terrorism

A general view of a building on fire at the South African Parliament precinct in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. (Obed Zilwa / AFP)
A general view of a building on fire at the South African Parliament precinct in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. (Obed Zilwa / AFP)

A man suspected of starting a fire that gutted South Africa’s parliament appears in court to face a new charge of terrorism, in addition to robbery and arson accusations.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, was arrested around the parliament complex in Cape Town after the fire broke out on January 2, and appeared in court three days later.

Mafe was initially charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal property, including laptops, crockery and documents, before the terrorism charge was added.

Prosecutors say the additional charge was introduced after investigators viewed CCTV footage from parliament on Monday.

A new charge reads that the “accused is guilty of the offence of contravening the provisions of… the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities,” according to a court document.

“The accused did unlawfully and intentionally deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive, or other lethal device in… parliament building with the purpose… of causing extensive damage,” it says, without giving further details.

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