Zandile Mafe

Zandile Mafe in the Cape Town High Court on 8 June 2023. Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

Zandile Mafe remanded in prison hospital as defence weighs acceptance or dispute of mental health report

Mafe remains in custody at the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison as the defence contemplates accepting or challenging the report.

Zandile Mafe

Zandile Mafe in the Cape Town High Court on 8 June 2023. Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

A clean-cut Zandile Mafe returned to the Cape Town High Court on Thursday, 8 June, after an extended mental health assessment at the Fort England Hospital in Makhanda, Eastern Cape.


Judge Nathan Erasmus held a conference in his chambers with Mafe’s defence – Senior Counsel Dali Mpofu, his junior Nikiwe Nyathi, and lawyer, Luvuyo Godla – and State Advocate Mervyn Menigo before court started.

Erasmus said he received an electronic copy of the Fort England medical team’s report on 24 May, just under two months after the accused was referred to the hospital. He furnished both the defence and State with the document and asked for their feedback.

Image: Storm Simpson/The South African.

READ: Parliament fire: More time needed to assess Zandile Mafe’s mental health

On Wednesday, he realised he had not received feedback from Mafe’s defence, which is why he called the parties to his chambers to ask certain questions. The State submitted its feedback the day before and is accepting the findings and recommendations of the report.

Erasmus recounted that the Fort England report was meant to answer two questions – whether Mafe could understand and follow proceedings and whether he suffered from mental illness or intellectual disability at the time of the alleged terror attack on Parliament.

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

Both parties confirmed that they had received the report. However, Mpofu said he had yet to consult with Mafe, and could only determine the legal route they would take after talking with the client.

The report refers to Mafe’s medical condition, and the findings were unanimous. Mpofu indicated the defence would consider bringing its own experts if it decided to dispute the findings.

“If the parties are in agreement, the court will follow the findings and recommendations of the report. If it is disputed, there is another process to be followed,” said Erasmus.

READ: SCA dismisses Mafe’s latest bail appeal – is ConCourt his next stop?

The Judge remanded Mafe in custody at the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison due to the prima facie evidence before him. The accused is due back in court on 13 July. However, this could change if the parties reach an agreement before then.


Before adjourning on Thursday, Judge Erasmus asked parties for their views on making the Fort England report available to the public as a court document.

He said they would be much speculation once the report is in the public domain as it discusses Mafe’s medical condition and the recommendations of the panel.

READ: Zandile Mafe no-show in court after requests for a kettle and TV were denied

Mpofu said releasing the report at this stage would not be prudent, and Menigo concurred. Erasmus put forward that members of the public, legal experts and scholars, would be able to figure out what is going on based on their knowledge of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), but he ruled that media access to the document is barred for now.

Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the CPA deal with the procedures to follow when dealing with criminal proceedings when a detainee’s mental illness affects the matter.

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“When it appears to a court that due to a mental illness, an accused person is: incapable of understanding the proceedings (section 77); or incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his or her actions (section 78); then the court is obliged to refer that person for observation. A panel of experts must be established to enquire and report on the mental condition of that person (section 79),” read Parliament’s Summary and Analysis of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill.

If the medical experts are unanimous in their findings, which they were in this case, and neither the prosecutor nor the accused dispute them, the court can make a decision on the matter on the basis of the medical report without hearing further evidence.

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However, if there is a dispute, the court will determine the matter after hearing evidence. In court, Erasmus said the court would be guided by Section 77, which sets out the orders that can be made if an accused is found to be unfit to stand trial due to mental illness or intellectual disability.

Outside court, Mafe’s lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, told reporters his client was happy and healthy after his time in the Eastern Cape.

The report will be released to the public if the parties come to an agreement. As previously reported, Mafe – who is charged with arson, housebreaking with intent to commit arson, terrorism and theft – was preliminarily diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by a district surgeon after his arrest in 2022.

READ: Zandile Mafe made ‘cofession’ after paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis, court hears