Zandile Mafe suspected of starting a devastating fire that gutted South Africa’s 138-year-old parliament building this month was on Tuesday charged with terrorism, adding to robbery and arson accusations.
Officials have described the fire as an attack on the country’s democracy.
Mafe, 49, had already been charged with breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal property in connection with the fire that started on January 2, but the additional charge of terrorism was added because he had also been caught with an explosive device, the prosecution said.
A new charge said 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 prosecution spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told reporters during a court recess that “we have added a sixth charge … the accused detonated a device inside parliament.”
The case was adjourned until February 11 and Mafe ordered to be detained in a psychiatric institute, after pleas from his defence council that he suffers from mental illness.
Defence lawyer Dali Mpofu said that Mafe was last week “taken for mental observation on January 3” and diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia.”
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court building in central Cape Town, saying Mafe was innocent and was a scapegoat. They demanded his release.