“I burnt the trains,” declared Thobela Xoseni during his first appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old smiled strangely at magistrate Greg Jacobs after a brief, loud and rambling consultation with his legal aid attorney across the wooden railing of the dock.
Xoseni, from Khayelitsha, was arrested after video footage from Cape Town station, where two train fires occurred simultaneously on Sunday, allegedly showed him exiting one of the trains.
After explaining something through a Xhosa translator to his attorney, he declared loudly: “I set the trains on fire, I burnt the trains”.
His declaration was accompanied by a slight smirk, a relaxed attitude and a gaze which resembled bemusement.
Xoseni was dressed smartly in a suit jacket and shirt and sported a trendy beard. His attorney seemed stunned by his conversation with her.
The state prosecutor, Melanie Wells, told the court security officers were patrolling the station when they saw smoke coming from trains at platforms 13 and 14.
When law enforcement authorities perused the footage they noticed Xoseni leaving a carriage shortly before the fire.
Wells requested a postponement for Xoseni’s mental state to be assessed by the district surgeon. He will be held in Cape Town central police station until his next appearance on May 2.