Zandile Mafe

Zandile Mafe appeared in the Cape Town High Court for his fifth pre-trial conference on Friday, 10 February. Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

Zandile Mafe adamant he will not return to Valkenberg for mental health check

Zandile Mafe does not want to return to Valkenberg for his mental health evaluation. The accused contracted COVID-19 and claims he was mistreated while he was there last year.

Zandile Mafe

Zandile Mafe appeared in the Cape Town High Court for his fifth pre-trial conference on Friday, 10 February. Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

Zandile Mafe appeared in the Cape Town High Court on Friday, 10 February, for his fifth pre-trial conference. The alleged parliament arsonist was widely expected to be referred to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital for a mental health evaluation again.


Mafe’s pre-trial High Court appearances have had a will-he-won’t-he element to them, as the accused has only appeared in one of his four appearances before today.

When the matter was called, the court orderly told Judge Nathan Erasmus the accused was in the court’s holding cells but refused to come up until he was given something to eat.

Eventually, Mafe emerged from the belly of the courthouse. At the last court appearance, the State and Defence agreed Mafe should be referred for another mental health evaluation.

However, Judge Nape Dolamo was reluctant to make such an order in the accused’s absence. On Friday, it became apparent that although there is an agreement between the parties, there are still some issues to be ironed out.

READ: Zandile Mafe skips court again, defence requests another Valkenberg referral

Advocate Dali Mpofu said Mafe insists he does not want to return to Valkenberg for this referral because he contracted COVID-19 during his first referral in 2022. The accused also claims he was mistreated. He was released from the facility in January 2022 after the High Court found that the Magistrate’s Court followed the wrong procedure with the referral and deemed it unlawful.

The defence suggested other psychiatric facilities in Cape Town, including Lentegeur and Stikland. The State said those facilities are more for rehabilitating patients and feel that Valkenberg remains the best option.

The waiting list for Valkenberg is 111 patients long, meaning that Mafe would need to wait ten months before he is admitted.

Judge Erasmus begged the question of whether it is fair and just that accused persons are held as awaiting trial prisoners when they should be booked in as mental patients.

The judge also suggested it might be necessary to appoint independent psychiatrists, as is the case in some murder matters, to evaluate Mafe alongside the observation at the State facility to ensure the evaluation of the accused’s mental health passes muster.

Before heading back to the court holding cells, Mafe took off his jacket and twice shouted his objection to Valkenberg, Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

Judge Erasmus postponed the matter for two weeks to 24 February. During this period, the State and Defence must table a report that looks at a suitable facility for Mafe and a suggestion for an independent psychiatrist who will form part of the panel observing the accused. As Mafe went down to holding cells, he wrestled off his jacket and shouted Valkenberg should not be mentioned.

Some of the options the parties will explore will be sending Mafe to an alternative hospital, which does not necessarily have to be in the province and fast-tracking his admittance to Valkenberg again. If they cannot reach an agreement, they will make their cases in front of Judge Erasmus at the next appearance.

In November 2022, the defence conceded something might be wrong with the accused’s mental health and started the motion of a second referral for evaluation. On Friday, Advocate Mpofu said the defence’s position is that Mafe is fit to stand trial, but a psychiatrist needs to make that call.

READ: Zandile Mafe’s defence concedes there may be issues with his mental health