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#ParliamentFire: PAC, Azapo vow to continue with hunger strike

───   09:19 Sun, 16 Jan 2022

#ParliamentFire: PAC, Azapo vow to continue with hunger strike | News Article

A group of protesters from the PAC and Azapo have vowed to continue with a hunger strike until alleged Parliament arsonist, Zandile Mafe, has been released.

They were protesting a few metres away from the High Court in Cape Town where Mafe’s bail application was postponed to next Saturday.

The protesters are also against the admission of Mafe to the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital for observation for 30 days as ordered by the Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town last week.

PAC and Azapo protesters supporting Mafe, vow to continue with their hunger strike.

Mafe is facing multiple charges including terrorism after he was arrested by the Hawks for allegedly starting the fire that gutted the Old Assembly and National Assembly buildings on the 2nd of January.

Last week, he was referred to the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital for a 30-day observation after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His urgent bail application in the High Court in Cape Town was postponed to next Saturday after his lawyers brought an urgent application to challenge his commitment for psychiatric observation.

Western Cape protest organiser Phumzile Jack addresses members.

“This idea of sending our brother to Valkenberg does not make sense at all. We are on a hunger strike until that man is released, he has done nothing. And also leaders when you passed by Parliament, there is a beautiful picture there. That picture is so beautiful. But Parliament and the state, are so incompetent. They don’t know who burnt Parliament. They must do their job. We are not going to do their job for them.”


‘State is paranoid’

Jack says Mafe does not suffer from paranoia schizophrenia, claiming that the state is paranoid.

“Now what’s happening is this. There is a referral which they are arguing to Valkenberg. Our brother is not mad. Paranoia schizophrenia is what we are suffering from as Black people because the government hates us. They don’t take care of us, that’s why we are going to suffer from paranoia schizophrenia. He is not sick. He knows his name. He says he is not guilty, he says he knows why he was in town. It’s just the state. They don’t have a case, that’s why they are going to fish around. They are the ones who are suffering from paranoia, not him. So what’s going to happen on the 18th we are coming back here leaders”, Jack emphasized.

Investigations by various law enforcement agencies into the fire continue on the parliamentary precinct. The buildings of the National Assembly, Old Assembly, and the National Council of Provinces have been cordoned off. Both the new National Assembly and Old Assembly buildings have been declared unsafe and a crime scene.

On Friday, accounting officers, officials, and the executive authorities of Parliament and Public Works and Infrastructure Development met virtually with the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament to answer various outstanding questions,  during a follow-up meeting with the committee.

Calls were also made by the Joint Standing Committee for an additional independent forensic investigation to be conducted to get to the bottom of the incident, instead of playing the blame game.

This call for a forensic investigation was also supported by the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Development Noxolo Kiviet.

The City of Cape Town’s Fire Department and the Police are the next stakeholders that will be called to appear before the Joint Standing Committee.

Committee Co-Chairperson, Peace Mabe, revealed this in some of her closing remarks on Friday.

“In the next meetings, we’ll find a way of inviting the Cape Town Fire Department to present their report. But we also have to note that and understand that their report does not purport to provide conclusive findings. So there is still some work that still needs to be done on that to come to a conclusion on what their findings were. The police have been identified as role players on this matter. We will make sure that we also invite them in the next meeting. There’s a proposal for an Independent Forensic Audit that has been welcomed. I think even also the DM (Deputy Minister) has welcomed the proposal for a Forensic Audit. There is also a proposal for a site visit before the SONA to check the state of readiness. We will then deal with the logistics and identify a team that will then have to fly to Cape Town to assure members of the public and members of Parliament that SONA will be hosted and that there won’t be any challenges.”

Mabe told members that the committee will not interfere or speculate on the investigations into the fire hydrants, sprinklers, and all fire-related equipment. She says they will await the final report on the incident.


SABC

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