24 April 2019

South Africa: Train Arson Suspect Sent for Psychiatric Assessment

Thobela Xoseni, the 30-year-old man accused of torching a dozen carriages on two train sets at Cape Town Station on Sunday, has been referred to the state's district surgeon for psychiatric assessment.

Xoseni made a brief first appearance at the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

The magistrate advised Xoseni to get a Legal Aid lawyer as the matter was "very serious" and "would end up in the regional court".

Dressed in a weathered black T-shirt and dishevelled blazer, Xoseni could be heard mumbling incoherently to a translator and lawyer during a brief consultation in court.

Prosecutor Melaney Wells told the court that while patrolling the platforms, rail security guards had noticed the smoke.

"The state is also informed that there is video footage of the accused leaving the carriage," she said.

Xoseni will remain in custody at Cape Town police station until his next appearance on 2 May.

In a statement, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) called for harsh sentences for any person who damages essential infrastructure.

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