(Reuters) -A South African court denied bail on Friday to a man charged with crimes including arson over a devastating fire at the national parliament in Cape Town in January, prosecutors said.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement that it believed it had a strong case against the accused, Zandile Mafe, who has denied the charges against him.
The NPA said it would oppose any appeal launched by Mafe against the bail ruling, adding that Mafe’s lawyer had told reporters outside the Cape Town Regional Court that such an appeal would be made.
Mafe faces charges of housebreaking with intent to commit terrorism and arson, terrorism, arson and theft, according to the NPA.
The state had argued that releasing him could endanger public safety and that he was a flight risk. Mafe’s lawyer previously said he was a scapegoat for authorities’ failures and that his arrest was a cover-up because it would have been a disgrace for no one to have been arrested.
Officials have described the fire, which severely damaged parts of the parliament precinct, as an attack on South African democracy.
The legislature has played a crucial role in helping roll back repressive apartheid-era policies over the past three decades. Some parts of the parliament complex date to the 1880s when South Africa was under British colonial rule.
(Reporting by Alexander WinningEditing by Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry)