Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

South African court overturns immunity for Grace Mugabe in assault case

South African court overturns immunity for Grace Mugabe in assault case

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday set aside the decision by the department of global relations to grant former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's wife diplomatic immunity.

Judge Bashier Vally set aside the decision by former global relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

The wife of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe was accused of assaulting South African model Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel where Mugabe's youngest two sons were staying on August 13 past year.

Lobby group AfriForum and the DA challenged Nkoana-Mashabane's decision in court.

"We now hope the National Prosecuting Authority will institute action against Mrs. Mugabe, which in time will mean she will be extradited to face trial", he said. The minister was slapped with the costs of the suit.

The High Court in Johannesburg found the decision was inconsistent with the Constitution and irrational.

Mrs Mugabe denied assaulting Engels with an electric cable, saying an "intoxicated and unhinged" Engels had attacked her with a knife.

Mugabe then counter-claimed that she had acted in self-defence.

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Two separate applications were brought by the DA and AfriForum.

In papers filed in the High Court, Ms Engels said Ms Nkoana-Mashabane had "misconstrued her powers".

DA federal council chairperson James Selfe described the judgment as "a great day for justice [and] the rule of law".

Vally said Nkoana-Mashabane's decision had been inconsistent with provisions in the constitution.

"In just the same way the South African government did in the [Omar] al-Bashir matter, the South African government chose to put the politics of expediency above the rule of law", Selfe said.

It says condoning such behaviour, as the granting of immunity did, can not possibly be in the interest of South Africa.

The Democratic Alliance and AfriForum spearheaded the motion to have the court nullify the government's decision to offer her diplomatic immunity, with the organisations stating the decision was unconstitutional.

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