9 May 2018

Zimbabwe: SA Hotel Violence - Grace Mugabe Immunity Challenged At Pretoria High Court

Photo: allafrica.com
Advocate Gerrie Nel and Former First Lady Grace Mugabe (file photo).

South Africa-based civil rights group Afriforum has launched an application with the High Court in Pretoria seeking to set aside the diplomatic immunity granted to former Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe.

Grace was granted immunity by the South African government under controversial circumstances after she was accused of physically assaulting model Gabriella Engels at a hotel in Sandton in August 2017.

The Zimbabwean first lady had reportedly found Engels with her two sons at the hotel.

Afriforum legal representative Willie Spies said in a statement Tuesday that several other institutions had also brought similar applications with the Pretoria High Court.

"The civil rights watchdog Afriforum's application against an earlier decision by the Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe, the former First Lady of Zimbabwe, will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on 10 and 11 May, 2018," said Spies.

According to the spokesperson, the institutions had also entered the proceedings as friends of the court, with all the cases being heard simultaneously.

"Should Afriforum be successful in having this diplomatic immunity to Mugabe set aside, it will pave the way for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) take steps to ultimately prosecute Mugabe."

In the event that the NPA decided not to prosecute the former Zimbabwe First Lady, Afriforum said it was ready to institute private prosecution.

Spies said that court application was the first step in their process to have Mugabe prosecuted for assaulting Engels with an electric cable at the luxurious hotel in Sandton.

Grace and her children reportedly maintained lavish and extravagant lifestyles and spent huge sums of money on parties and shopping in Johannesburg and Sandton when she was still Zimbabwe's first lady.

Former president Robert Mugabe's wife has since denied attacking Engels, saying her accusations were "malicious allegations".

Grace claimed, instead, that she is the one who had been attacked after going to help her sons.

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