Grace Mugabe could stand trial for assault after immunity revoked

FILE Former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe

They asked the court to nullify government's decision to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity after she assaulted model Gabriella Engels at a hotel in August a year ago.

Th High Court in Johannesburg on Monday found that the decision to give Mugabe immunity after she allegedly assaulted an SA citizen, was "unconstitutional and unlawful" and set the decision aside.

Mugabe was involved in a physical altercation with South African model Gabriella Engels previous year, when Mugabe had found her in a Sandton hotel with her two sons.

The state had granted Mugabe immunity‚ saying it was imperative to maintain good intergovernmental relations within the region‚ and in particular‚ between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Engels said Mugabe hit her with an electrical cord in a hotel room in the presence of her sons, an allegation Mugabe denies.

"That the minister has the power to confer immunity on Dr Mugabe is neither doubtful or debatable", Judge Vally said.

In papers filed in the High Court, Ms Engels said Ms Nkoana-Mashabane had "misconstrued her powers".

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AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, whose organisation has been offering legal and counselling support to Engels, said he was "delighted at the judgment", and confirmed Chemaly's view.

AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have urged the authorities to reissue the arrest warrant against Grace Mugabe and ensure she is prosecuted on a charge of assault. "Even if the NPA decides not to prosecute, we will have the ability to go the route of a private prosecution with advocate Gerrie Nel", Kriel pointed out. "She simply got away because of political reasons".

NPA spokeswoman Phindi Mjnonondwana said police were still responsible for the case.

National Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed that the Engels investigation docket was still open and "due processes will follow".

The DA's federal council chairperson James Selfe also attended the judgment. Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Grace Mugabe.

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu said she had noted the judgment, adding that the department would study it and comment later, if necessary.

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