South African court overturns immunity for Grace Mugabe in assault case

Grace Mugabe
Grace Mugabe

A South African court on Monday overturned a decision by the government to grant Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity following accusations of assault by a South African woman.

Model Gabriella Engel filed a case in court, accusing Grace of whipping her with an electric cord.

The former first lady returned to her country immediately after the South African government granted her immunity, allowing her to evade prosecution for the assault charge.

She however denied assaulting the model, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels had attacked her with a knife. South African advocacy group Afriforum, which represented Engels, dismissed the allegations as lies.

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance also challenged the ruling to grant Grace the immunity.

In his ruling, Bashier Vally ruled that the decision to grant diplomatic immunity was inconsistent with the constitution.

Willie Spies, a lawyer for Afriforum, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should now take action to prosecute Grace Mugabe and seek her extradition from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Grace Mugabe.

“The ball is in their court now,” Spies said, adding that Afriforum had argued that Grace Mugabe committed the attack on Engles while she was on a private visit to South Africa and therefore did not qualify for diplomatic immunity.