Grace Mugabe's immunity in assault case challenged

On Thursday, the High Court in Pretoria was presented with a legal dilemma as it considered the diplomatic immunity granted to former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe.

Engels told News24 that she was not feeling nervous about the court case. We need to get this diplomatic immunity lifted and insist that she be charged.

Pictures on social media appeared to show Engels bleeding from her head after the alleged assault at the hotel in the upmarket business district of Sandton. In a statement yesterday, AfriForum said the Pretoria High Court would hear the case tomorrow.

Bringing Grace to justice has been at the heart of the case and has always been the goal of rights groups that tended to frown at her husband Robert Mugabe's repressive regime, which was toppled last November in a de facto coup.

Mrs Mugabe has denied attacking the model and said she was defending herself from a knife wielding and intoxicated young woman.

Mugabe allegedly assaulted model Gabrielle Engels with an electric cord in August previous year because she 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 group said.The granting of diplomatic immunity allowed Grace to leave South Africa along with her husband, who was in that country for a Sadc meeting, without being made to answer to any charges.

He said 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 [National Prosecuting Authority] to take steps to ultimately prosecute Mugabe", it said.

Mugabe was accused by 20-year-old Engels of assaulting her and two friends at a luxury Johannesburg hotel.

They are also saying, given the seriousness of this particular crime, it was irrational and against the law considering the crime that she had allegedly committed.

Eyewitness News reporter Barry Bateman has more on the story.

They [ the state] are referring to worldwide law, saying that as the spouse of a head of state she was entitled to this, thus they obliged and granted her immunity from prosecution.

"And for that very reason it is so important that the courts should look at it and no one else", Spies added.

Engels said she suffered deep cuts to her forehead and the back of her head.

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