Man accused of Parliament fire plans to plead not guilty: Lawyer

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The lawyer of the man accused of causing the devastating fire at Parliament, says his client plans on pleading not guilty.

Forty-nine-year-old Zandile Christmas Mafe appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s court this morning after he was arrested shortly after the fire broke out on Sunday morning.

The blaze that gutted the old and new National Assembly buildings, flared up again on Monday causing more damage.

Mafe is facing charges of destruction of essential infrastructure, the possession of an explosive device, arson, theft and housebreaking.

Mafe’s bail application has been postponed to Tuesday next week for the court to verify his information.

His lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, spoke to the media outside the court.

“He was arrested by members of SAPS and one will assume maybe he must have been arrested within a certain proximity of the incident which in this case, it could even be Khayelitsha, where all of us, reside because it’s 20 minutes to Khayelitsha. So all those issues will be issues that will be ventilated. He denies vehemently those charges, he rejects those charges.”

Accused lawyer speaks to the media:

Fire finally contained

On Tuesday, firefighters managed to contain the fire which flared up again on Monday afternoon.

The roof of the National Assembly building has been destroyed completely. Mopping up operations are now under way. The fire was stopped around midnight.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, says they were able to bring the fire under control just after midnight but remained at the scene to assess the damage to the building.

Carelse says floors four and five of the National Assembly have been completely gutted following the second flare-up.

Gallery of fire:

Some of the pictures captured by SABC News reporter Mercedes Besent