NEWS & ANALYSIS

AfriForum in court over Grace Mugabe

High Court will hear application against decision to grant Zimbabwe's former first lady diplomatic immunity

AfriForum in court over Grace Mugabe

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.

This court application is the first important step in a process to have Mugabe prosecuted for her alleged assault of Gabriella Engels, a young Johannesburg model, in August 2017.

High drama reigned last year when it became known that Engels was allegedly assaulted by Mugabe with an electric cord because last mentioned was unhappy with the escapades of her two sons in a luxury hotel in Sandton.

It is common knowledge that Mugabe and her offspring maintained extravagant lifestyles and spent enormous amounts of money on accommodation, shopping and parties in among others Sandton and Johannesburg when she was still the first lady of Zimbabwe.

The reign of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean dictator, ended shortly after the incident when the Zimbabwean army intervened. Since, Emmerson Mnangagwa became the President of Zimbabwe.

At the time the South African government decided in a very controversial manner to silently grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe, thus giving her the opportunity to return to Zimbabwe from South Africa and therefore evade prosecution in South Africa. Because of her being granted diplomatic immunity, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) could not further investigate the charges against Mugabe of assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm and AfriForum therefore launched a court application to have the controversial grant set aside.

Various other institutions have since brought similar applications with the High Court in Pretoria and also entered the proceedings as friends of the court; therefore, all the applications around this case will be heard simultaneously.

Should AfriForum be successful in having this diplomatic immunity to Mugabe set aside, it will pave the way for the NPA to take steps to ultimately prosecute Mugabe. AfriForum indicated earlier that its private prosecuting unit under leadership of Adv. Gerrie Nel stands at the ready to institute private prosecution should the NPA decide not to prosecute Mugabe.

Statement issued by Willie Spies, Legal Representative, AfriForum, 8 May 2018