Zimbabwe: Grace Mugabe Arrest Warrant Triggers Diplomatic Conflict

Former president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe (file photo).

Harare — A DIPLOMATIC collision appears on the cards after Zimbabwe insisted it would not extradite former first lady, Grace Mugabe, to answer to assault charges in neighbouring South Africa.

This would be in defiance of an arrest warrant issued by the South African National Prosecution Authority (NPA) against the controversial woman, who is wanted for allegedly attacking model Gabriella Engels who was in the company of the Mugabe's sons last year.

The temperamental former first lady, ironically born in South Africa, allegedly injured Engels with an electric cable.

South African courts ruled in favour of an application by AfriForum, which represents Engels, to have the disgraced former first lady to answer to the charges.

This would pave way for her extradition to South Africa.

Zimbabwe has maintained it would not repatriate the wife of former president, Robert Mugabe, alleging the court application and arrest warrant were a ploy to embarrass the former first family.

"An attack on Grace Mugabe is an attack on the former President. President (Robert) Mugabe is our founding father and liberation icon and his misery is undesirable to us," said a defiant Zimbabwe deputy minister of information, Energy Mutodi.

"We will not smile on any attempt to embarrass, ill-treat or diminish the image of former President Robert Mugabe or his immediate family members," he added.

Mutodi said Mrs Mugabe still enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

However, AfriForum's Willie Spies insisted they would continue pushing for'justice' if Zimbabwe defied the arrest warrant.

"Mrs Mugabe must now be brought before a court to make sure her victim (Engels) receives justice," Spies said.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) said it would explore the option of International Criminal Police (Interpol) to enforce extradition order of the suspect.

"We are following the Interpol processes, so we are applying for assistance to secure her arrest," said SAPS spokesman, Vishnu Naidoo.

Mrs Mugabe is being accused of assaulting South African model Engels with an electric cable in August last year at a luxury hotel (Sandton) where she was found partying with Mugabe's two sons, Chatunga Bellermine and Robert (Jr).

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