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South Africa parliament fire: Suspect 'had explosives'

BY: BBC
Zandile Christmas Mafe was arrested in the parliamentary complex, police say
Zandile Christmas Mafe was arrested in the parliamentary complex, police say

A man detained for setting South Africa's parliament in Cape Town on fire was found at the site with explosives, prosecutors have alleged.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, appeared in a city court on charges under the Explosives Act, as well as for arson, theft and a break-in.

His lawyer said he was innocent of all the charges.

The fire first broke out on Sunday, totally destroying the National Assembly, or lower chamber.

No-one was injured the blaze, but it has left the nation shocked.

Mr Mafe is the only person arrested in connection with the fire.

He looked unkempt and dazed in court, reports the BBC's Nomsa Maseko from Cape Town.

As he arrived in the dock wearing shorts and a creased shirt, he removed his face mask and did a 360-degree turn as cameras flashed.

Police said Mr Mafe had been arrested within the parliamentary complex after the fire started, but his lawyer said the wrong person had been detained.

The case was postponed for seven days to allow police to continue with their investigations.

Firefighters say they have managed to contain the blaze that reignited on Monday.

Strong winds caused smouldering wood in the roof to catch fire again.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the city's council chamber would be made available as an alternative place for parliament to meet.