Grace Mugabe's immunity annulled by South African court


A South African court on Monday ruled that the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by former Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe is "inconsistent with the constitution".

The decision to grant her diplomatic immunity was taken by former minister of worldwide relations and cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane after Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels in a luxury hotel in Sandton in August previous year.

Mugabe was accused of using an electrical extension cord to assault Gabriella Engels, a Johannesburg-based model, in August a year ago.

Mugabe who stopped to wave at the crowd did not talk about how he voted, his wife Grace said she feels good about this election.

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.

The court ruling comes on the same day as Zimbabweans go to the polls in the first vote since Mr Mugabe was ousted.

NPA South Gauteng spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said they would not comment, as the case was with the police.

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Richard Chemaly, a legal strategist, said the judgment removes the procedural barrier that is immunity from the equation, but doesn't compel the NPA to reinstate charges against Mugabe.

Engels' lawyer Etienne Labuschagne then teamed up with the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party to petition the High Court challenging Nkoana-Mashabane's decision.

Mrs Mugabe said at the time that she had acted in self-defence after the "intoxicated and unhinged" model attacked her in a hotel room where her two sons lived.

The judge said Nkoana-Mashabane's decision to "recognise immunity" was an error in law that was "fundamental and fatal".

Kriel said AfriForum would continue monitoring the case and, if the national prosecuting authority decided not to prosecute, the lobby group's private prosecuting unit would be ready to prosecute.

Read: Are diplomats and politicians above the law?

Selfe said a warrant of arrest must be reissued for Mugabe, and that the DA expected government to work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that she returns to SA and has her day in court to answer for her actions.