11 May 2018

South Africa: Grace Mugabe Can't Buy Justice - Model's Mom

Acting Judge Bashier Vally on Friday reserved judgment in an application by lobby group AfriForum against the decision by the international relations and cooperation minister to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe.

The wife of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity after she allegedly beat up model Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel where her two sons were staying.

After Friday's proceedings in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Engels' mom Debbie said she was hopeful because the counsel representing her daughter had done a great job.

"Everything is now in the hands of the judge, but we are hopeful."

Engels said that if Judge Vally ruled in their favour, criminal proceedings should follow.

"At the end of the day, all we want is for Grace Mugabe to come and stand in the dock and answer as to why she attacked my daughter in the first place.

"If the judge throws in a sentence, it would be a bonus."

She said the Mugabe family had never reached out to them to apologise or to explain why Gabriella had been assaulted.

"They did offer us money in the beginning, but we are not going to disclose the amount. But at the end of the day, you cannot buy justice. You cannot just give us some money and my daughter is supposed to heal.

'She must tell us why she did what she did'

"My daughter does not know why this woman came and attacked her from nowhere. All the stories that are circulating that my daughter attacked Grace is an utter lie, there were witnesses in the room that can testify that this woman barged into the room and hit her. We want to know why she did that."

Engels said her daughter had suffered a lot of trauma after the incident.

"You can't put a child through trauma and come give a certain amount of money and expect that the child must go on and her trauma must be washed away. That is not the way it works."

She said Gabriella wanted closure.

"She must tell us why she did what she did so that my daughter can heal."

During closing arguments, Hilton Epstein SC, for the minister, said spousal immunity was part of international law, and thus part of South African law.

He admitted: "There is a victim and if there is a crime, that crime will be affected by the granting of immunity. When you look at immunity, of course it infringes on the rights... "

On Thursday he submitted that then-minister of international relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had granted Mugabe the immunity under international customary law.

Minister 'had to apply her mind, but she didn't'

The DA's advocate, Anton Katz SC, said Nkoana-Mashabane had made a submission that was inconsistent with the Constitution.

"What should have happened here is that the police should have arrested Dr Mugabe, she should have appeared before the court, and then she would have raised the issue of her immunity. The issue of international customary law and domestic laws would have been dealt with by the judge. It is for the courts to decide the law not the executives.

"She had to apply her mind, but she didn't," he said.

Counsel for AfriForum and Engels' advocate, Etienne Labuschagne SC, said Nkoana-Mashabane had put a stop to the prosecution proceeding by granting Mugabe immunity.

"My client comes here to say that what the minister did stands as a bar preventing her from constitutional right to make Mrs Mugabe have her day in court.

"My client is here to vindicate her constitutional right."

It was wrong to have treated Mugabe as the spouse of a head of state, because she was in SA on a private matter and her husband was not in the country conducting presidential duties, he added.

Source: News24

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