Grace Mugabe feels the heat

HARARE - Embattled First Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday asked for diplomatic immunity cover to avoid being arrested for an alleged severe assault of a 20-year-old model she found in the hotel with her sons in Sandton, South Africa, on Sunday night.

This comes as President Robert Mugabe left for South Africa yesterday, ahead of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State summit which gets underway in Pretoria tomorrow.

It was not clear whether Mugabe had gone ahead of schedule to try and resolve Grace’s issue which has threatened to spark a diplomatic row between Zimbabwe and its biggest trading partner, South Africa, ever since police indicated that they want her arrested over the assault of Gabriella Engels.

It was another day of drama yesterday as it emerged that contrary to conflicting and inaccurate media reports that Grace had escaped  from facing justice, she was still in South Africa as her lawyers and government representatives from the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria, were frantically trying to save her from being arrested and dragged to court.

South Africa Police Services acting boss Lesetja Mothiba told Parliament’s portfolio committee of police that Grace’s lawyers had pleaded diplomatic immunity before she was to handover herself to police on Tuesday.

“The whole thing (assault of Engels) happened, I think it was around Sunday, but the matter was only brought to the attention of the police on Monday in the afternoon and our provincial commissioner put a team together to look for her.

“She (Grace) booked out of the hotel where she was staying together with her sons. Our position was that she must go to court. The whole day yesterday (Tuesday) we were waiting for her . . . we were expecting a statement from her,” Mothiba told the parliamentary committee.

Mothiba said after consulting the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) they decided that police was not going to let the first lady off the hook.

Later, The South African police ministry issued a statement in which it said Grace had changed her mind about going to the police as the lawyers together with Zimbabwe Embassy officials had officially invoked diplomatic immunity cover.

“The suspect’s lawyers and her government representatives made verbal representations to SAPS investigators that the suspect wished to invoke diplomatic immunity cover and thus she elected to change her mind about the warning statement,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Discussions with the suspect’s lawyers and the Zimbabwean High Commission representatives are taking place to make sure that the suspect is processed through the legal system,” the ministry said.

It was not yet clear by the time of going to print whether Grace was going to be granted the diplomatic immunity relief by the NPA.

A top official in South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) earlier said since Grace was not on official business, diplomatic immunity would not apply in her case.

“Firstly, for it to apply, she needs to be here on official business. It won’t apply if she’s here on holiday or for something else.

“Secondly, as a first lady, she’s not part of government or a government official. It doesn’t apply just because she’s the wife of a president,” said Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela.

Respected Zimbabwean lawyer Petinah Gappah said Grace did not fully enjoy diplomatic community.

“There are two kinds of immunity, full immunity for head of mission or ambassador level ranks and similar, and functional immunity, where immunity applies only in the exercise of official functions. So a person with functional immunity may evade prosecution for traffic fines incurred while driving to work, but is not covered for an assault committed in a night club,” explained Gappah.

“Heads of State also enjoy full immunity in international law, subject of course to the norms of international criminal law, which allow heads of States to be brought to account for specific crimes. In such cases, their immunity would be pierced, see for instance, Al-Bashir of Sudan.

“I would argue that Grace enjoys neither full nor functional immunity for any crimes she may have committed in South Africa. She is the wife of a Head of State, who enjoys full immunity, and not a head of State herself. She is not even a government minister.

“She was not in South Africa as part of any government delegation, so she was not there on official business. Had she been there to attend a summit or similar, as an official government delegate, things might be different, but she was not,” added Gappah.

“She may travel on a diplomatic passport, but so do many persons who do not enjoy diplomatic immunity. So basically, she was just another tourist who committed a crime. Such persons can be tried in the countries of their crimes, and if they do not avail themselves for trial, a request for extradition may be made,” she explained further.

Curiously, the South African police ministry said the Zimbabwe government had said Grace was expected to attend the Sadc summit and bi-lateral diplomatic meetings in Pretoria — as it tried to bolster its diplomatic immunity cover invocation.

According to Mugabe, Grace missed last week’s youth interface rally in Gwanda as she had travelled to South Africa for treatment on her injured ankle, in a statement which appeared to suggest that his wife’s trip was private and personal.

Problems for Grace started on Sunday when she was accused by Engels of allegedly striking her several times with an extension cord which left her with multiple injures, including gushes in the head and forehead which required sutures.

The First Family’s sons, Robert Junior and Chatunga Bellarmine, are resident in Johannesburg where they are studying following the decision to relocate Junior, who had been based in the United Arab Emirates.

Engels said when she arrived at the hotel visiting her sons, one of Grace’s bodyguards asked her and a friend to wait in a separate room before the first lady allegedly started beating her.

“When Grace entered I had no idea who she was. She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it,” Engels said on Monday as she filed an assault charge against Grace.

Engels said Grace accused her of living with her sons.

“She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised . . . I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.

“Her 10 bodyguards just stood there watching, no one did anything, no one tried to help me.

“I am a model, with this scar over my face my whole career is ruined.

“I don’t know how to deal with this, but I am trying hard. I am trying so hard to be strong, “said Engels.

Engels later posted several pictures of her injuries which she said were caused by an extension cable allegedly used by Grace during the assault.

The pictures sent social media into meltdown as the world was abuzz with Grace’s alleged assault of the model.

Grace has in the past been caught in incidents of violence.

In 2009, Grace was investigated by Hong Kong police for an alleged assault on a British photographer during a shopping trip to the city.

She was accused of repeatedly punching Richard Jones — chief photographer of the Hong Kong photo agency Sinopix — who was on an assignment for the British Sunday Times.

In 2014, Grace confronted journalists at a Singaporean hospital as she bid to block them from photographing Mugabe as he entered Gleneagles facility for his medical check-up.

Of late, both Mugabe and Grace have been showing signs of exasperation with their sons with the Zanu PF leader publicly warning Chatunga to lay off fun and concentrate on his studies.

Grace, just like her husband, last month shared her agony with relatives over the continuing wayward behaviour of sons.

The errant and fun-loving Mugabe’s sons, despite their status in society, have found it difficult to lead restricted lifestyles and have often been pictured mingling with ordinary Zimbabweans at football matches and upmarket entertainment venues.

Comments (25)

where is Grestling

UHURU - 17 August 2017

So this immunity thing you are talking about allows those people covered by such to harass other people??? Is this justice??? So a covered person can kill and still go scot-free just because they are covered by this diplomatic immunity thing??

Jappa - 17 August 2017

Nonsense! How do you know how & what she feels?

Blaz - 17 August 2017

Justice must be allowed to take its course,Grace has no rights to beat n one-no double standards for the application of justice here are needed.Therez no basis to have Grace exempted.We want justice to applied on all citizens without n exemption-no separate justice for the poor& for rich,Grace is just a private citizen

addmore gudo - 17 August 2017

At the commission of the crime she had no diplomatic immunity, she was there on private business, she is not a government official. They are now trying to seek immunity by including her on the government delegation for the SADC meeting. Lets see how SA legal entities are going to navigate this one.

Sinyo - 17 August 2017

One of the conditions diplomatic immunity is accorded to diplomats is on principle that they personally responsible people and without the intention of committing criminal activities in other countries. Grace had the intention to commit a crime and therefore no immunity should be ever considered here. Criminals must face international justice period. Otherwise this woman will end up killing innocent citizens in their own countries and claim diplomatic immunity.

Ziziharinanyanga - 17 August 2017

Grace certainly deserves to account for her outrageous and reckless conduct, coming especially from a First lady who is supposed to the repository of decorum and a pillar of national values and exemplary behaviour. She was stupidly oblivious to the fact that her substance induced like anger and impunity from criminal activities could only apply in Zimbabwe. She assumed that, if she got away with illegally confiscating peoples property and evicting landless peasants in Zimbabwe, she could also continue with her criminal enterprise elsewhere. Some form of restitution and an apology should be the minimum punishment imposed on her otherwise she could have been thrown in jail. She should also be placed on probation for the next three years. Grace's wild and criminal antics notwithstanding, the overzealousness of the South African Minister of Police and his charges was quite evident and should not be overlooked. They breached protocol and went overboard by announcing the impending arrest before any inputs from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pretoria, as required under the Geneva Convention in such cases. if they protected Al Bashir from killing his own people in Sudan, they could have done the same with Grace even though she did not really deserve the reprieve. The only consolation is that, it helped throw the matter into the open and expose Grace for what she really is, a nuisance and deranged woman using state resources to commit her crimes.

Jaikolu Maison - 17 August 2017

Serves her right. Used to being above the law in Zim. Only goes to show how dumb she is, why not even ask the bodyguards to handle her dirty jobs, as bad as that is still.

zuze - 17 August 2017

why not flog her two sons?

TOTOTO - 17 August 2017

She commited the crime knowing very well which country she was in -South Africa. She knows very well if the worse comes to the worst her husband will simply talk to Zuma to influence the the law enforcement machinery. That failing she will use the 14 Billion dollars remaining after I Billion is already committed to the questionable Robert Gabriel Mugabe Uni in the pipeline. The SA legal machinery (especially the police) willbe too happy to receive even 10 000 USD of the 14 Billion to make the disappear. Just look at how jittery they areon this case so far. Why wait, shilly-shallying, to arrest a criminal, a possible murderer ? Grace ofcourse will try by all means to evade justice but the onus is on the SA police to take action after the case was reported.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 17 August 2017

I am happy to learn that SA lawyer Gerrie Nel will be facing jongolia Grace Mugabe in the courts. I am prepared to contribute 1 month of salary to see justice being done. Whatever foolish Zimbos may say against me my reminder to them is you are going to pay more if Grace is to escape this. So its better for us to pay less by seeing to it the this jongolia madwoman is incacerated till her old darling kiss our country goodbye. By the time she is released she will be sober in a new Zimbabwe.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 17 August 2017

Her action is totally outrageous.

david taylor - 17 August 2017

Lack of thinking and acting out of impulse will result in at least one result - she has to look for another country for asylum for her boys, how funny life can suddenly change hey? I don't see Azanians keeping quiet on this.

Sagitarr - 17 August 2017

those thinking that an african country like south africa can arrest a friendly neighbours first lady are dreaming,keep on dreaming,we do not even need to invoke diplomatic immunity,pres zuma will just rein in his pompous minister of police,south african police assault innocent zimbos everyday but we have never heard loud calls for rheir prosecution,why persecute grace?zuma is an african man who can never allow a fellow leader to be embarrassed,that is why south africa is pulling out of the ICC,those of yushedding crocodile tears for the little angels should not hide behind her,just face us in the polls next year and we defeat yu,grace mugabe is the spouse of an african president and she remains untouchable on the continent,the southfricans are advised to fight very serious crime in their country and leave our first lady alone

truth - 17 August 2017

Its just ZANU-PF DNA. Every time ZANU-PF beat up other party supporters its the other party supporters who are arrested. Its ZANU-PF who have been the ruling party since 1980, yet they claim its MDC that has ruined the economy. So accordingly Grace was acting according to doctrine when she blamed the young girl for every sin of the her boys. No ZANU-PF supporter should be shocked by this or even pretend to be. Even those in Lacoste.

Clear - 17 August 2017

Sometime ago someone once called a full government minister " a street woman". I wonder who is showing street behaviour now. Anyway the way forward is that they are just going to have an out of court settlement with the offended then the SA gov goes to press with this diplomatic immunity nonsense, then game over.

Ziggy Zigawo - 17 August 2017

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changare - 18 August 2017

The practice of using violence against perceived enemies is a ZANU PF modus operandi. Grace was simply following party procedures! She must be confused why her victim is not the one being arrested.

Jonso - 18 August 2017

The practice of using violence against perceived enemies is a ZANU PF modus operandi. Grace was simply following party procedures! The only difference is that she is being arrested instead of the victim!

Jonso - 18 August 2017

Typical of a woman who came from the gutters.No no manners at all not even the bad ones.Imagine if she were to be the next president.

chimuti - 18 August 2017

Just goes to show you the bad genetics are passed on to the next generation. Just as mother and father has set a miserable example as parents and leadership of Zimbabwe. Now the son act like wild animals as too the same as their mother. Bob is mentally dead already so that is a closed case. They will be nothing in life but worthless little boys as their mother and father have trained them to be. Bob cannot teach discipline morals to Zimbabweans when his own children act like disfunctional criminals. I think they get that part from their father. And being uneducated idiots from their mother. The apple does not all far from the tree.

Piankhi - 18 August 2017

Chisingaperi chinoshura, musoro wegudo chave chinokoro. Aive Madziva ave mazambuko etc. Nhasi Grace zvamuwana, south African prosescutors must get her the proper shoe size, come on Gery Nell, bite the bitch

zano - 18 August 2017

I like the jewish custom that one is defined as a jew by the mother and not the father. Remember that grace has been sleeping around with different men, Peter pamhire, James Makamba, Ray kaukonde etc. Those two boys yes they are her sons, but R G Mugabe no, he is just a social guardian

zano - 18 August 2017

The First Lady has campaigned positively for ZANU PF. It is clear that ZANU PF is going to win resoundingly for it is such people like Dr Grace who make ZANU PF tick. Hazvishamise izvi nokuti ZANU ndeyeropa.

The Desert Fox - 18 August 2017

Pettina Gapa is wrong.According to International Law,immunity of a Head of State extends to his wife and children.Remember Mark Thatcher was wisked out of South Africa after being involved in a coup attempt,and Grace Mugabe was granted immunity in Singapore after beating up a journalist and causing the journalist griveous bodily harm.There is no way South Africa can arrest the President of Zimbabwe.That girl can not be the cause of diplomatic rift between the two countries.I do not sympathise with Grace Mugabe but Daily News readers must look at the bigger picture.

Kufandada - 18 August 2017

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