Cape Town — The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has reportedly denied that Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe will be granted diplomatic immunity despite reports to the contrary.
Despite the Dirco report, Reuters had quoted a government source saying the South African government is planning to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe, allowing her to return to Harare and avoid prosecution for the alleged assault of a 20-year-old model.
Gabriella Engels, who is accusing the first lady of attacking her at a Sandton hotel, also claims representatives of Mugabe offered a bribe as an out-of-court settlement but she rejected it, because "she's not interested in money, only justice", Lobby group AfriForum's advocate Gerrie Nel said. AfriForum is willing to represent Engels in a private prosecution if the state fails, Nel said.
The scandal has become a diplomatic mess for South Africa's government and Zimbabwe's 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who arrived in the country a day earlier than scheduled for a regional SADC summit in South Africa's capital, Johannesburg, apparently to deal with the crisis.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has reportedly instructed his office to keep a close watch on the country's borders to prevent Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe leaving the country.