Grace granted immunity

HARARE - First Lady Grace Mugabe, who had been holed up in South Africa where she stood accused of severely assaulting and injuring a 20-year-old model, was finally granted immunity by President Jacob Zuma’s government and returned home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Grace landed at Harare International Airport early in the morning with her husband, President Robert Mugabe and government ministers aboard an Air Zimbabwe plane, which was carrying the 93-year-old veteran leader from the Sadc summit in Pretoria.

The first lady created a storm in South Africa when she allegedly stormed a hotel where her sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga, were staying and beat up the young model Gabriella Engels, an incident which led to massive calls for her to be arrested.

South Africa’s department of International Relations and Cooperation published a notice in its government’s gazette yesterday announcing the granting of immunity to Grace by International Relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane dated August 19.

“In accordance with the powers vested in me by Section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 2001 (Act No.37 of 2001) and acting in the interest of Republic of South Africa, I hereby recognise the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe, in terms of international law as set out in the attached notice,” the gazette reads.

She was granted immunity for the following reasons:.

- The need to uphold the rule of law, ensure fair administration of justice and uphold the rights of the complainant;

- The imperative to maintain good inter-governmental relations within the Sadc region, and in particular between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe;

- The fact that the matter coincides with South Africa’s hosting of the 37th Sadc Summit of Heads of State and Government;

- Legal considerations, including derivative immunity of spouses of Heads of State,

AfriForum, which is representing the girl will launch a review application and this was hinted by a legal representative at the civil rights organisation, Willie Spies yesterday.

“If immunity was granted, we’ll launch a review application,” Spies wrote.

Inconsistencies and drama developed throughout the week, starting with SA Police minister, Fikile Mbalula claiming that Grace had handed herself over to the police but as it turned out, she never went to any police station.

Police then considered having a warrant of arrest issued by the courts and they also issued a red alert for her not to leave the country as the standoff escalated.

The immunity was granted amid objections from the girl’s family and lawyers as well as protestors who gathered outside the Sadc summit venue on Saturday, with law experts arguing that she did not qualify for immunity.

Earlier in the week, Engels revealed through her lawyers, that she had been approached by the first family via a third party, offering her money to drop the case but her family turned down the offer saying they wanted to exhaust all legal channels.

Engels is alleging that she was struck several times with an electricity extension cord and was left nursing deep wounds which needed stitching after being found with Grace’s two sons. Details of what exactly transpired at the luxurious Sandton Hotel are not clear.

AfriForum, led by top advocate Gerrie Nel, said if the South African Police Service (Saps) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) fail to prosecute Grace, they would institute private prosecution.

“If she (Grace) escapes jurisdiction, we will really do what we can in terms of the law, in terms of extraditions but it’s a very difficult question to answer now on what we should,” Nel told journalists on Thursday.

Nel said private prosecution would be pursued if no action is taken against Grace in three months and insisted that for her to be prosecuted, she would need to be on South African soil.

Spies added that they will not rest until justice was done.

“We will take a long term approach on this to see that justice prevails.

“She may be back in Zimbabwe, but it may mean that she will find it very difficult to come back to South Africa in the future,” Spies said.

Grace missed Mugabe’s Gwanda youth interface rally two weeks ago as she had travelled to South Africa for treatment on her injured ankle.

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

In 2009, she 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 blocked them from photographing Mugabe while he was entering Gleneagles facility for his medical check-up.

The Daily News understands that the first family is working towards bringing back home  Robert Jnr and Chatunga, who are currently based in neighbouring South Africa where they are said to be at college.

The young boys have been a thorn in the flesh for the first family because of their alleged waywardness, and indulgent lifestyles.

They are both infamously known for their extravagant lifestyles, hanging out with beautiful girls and wild drinking binges.

Mugabe’s sons relocated to Johannesburg, the commercial capital city of South Africa, at the beginning of the year after running into disciplinary problems involving brawls and alleged abuse of banned substances in Dubai.

Given the wave of crime in South Africa, and the negative attention they have courted, the first family now fear for the boys’ lives.

Comments (5)

MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

addmore gudo - 21 August 2017

Mrs Grace Mugabe is an angry woman. Where does the anger come from? Listening to her speaking to her comrades one would assume she is speaking to MDC members. Now this embarassment of beating a girl in a foreign land has sunk her lower. She can sit down with her sons and talk or better still seek spiritual counselling. God can turn those boys around. Please those who have her ear tell her to try God.

Dzvuke Muchaina - 21 August 2017

There is a close relationship between individual violence and psychosis disorder. Apart from proving that this lady is not fit to hold public office, the general public is now in doubt if her mental condition is healthy or her judgemental capabilities are still ok.

Ziziharinanyanga - 21 August 2017

Is it just me who wants to crawl under the rock when Grace starts speaking? It's uncomfortable, unnerving and like watching a slow motion train wreck. I wonder what her 1st public appearance would be like. If I were her, this is the time to totally leave politics and focus on her family. She has enough stolen assets to look after.

zuze - 21 August 2017

I am at loss as to how the interests of South Africa can be served by the violation of the basic rights of its citizens. This is clearly a misapplication of the privileges and immunities principle which leaves political manipulation and capitulation as the only plausible reason. The least Nkoana Mashabane could have secured is an apology for the poor girl. Its mind boggling that there is neither a sense of remorse or compunction by Grace, who in my opinion is so drunk and reckless with power she believes she is above the law anywhere in the world. Its difficult to see how the South African government can play a constructive role in resolving the problems of its northern neighbour when Grace is given the green light to abuse its citizens get diplomatic immunity to enable her to waltz back across the Limpopo with impunity. To the ordinary people of South Africa, I hope you will now understand better and that this incident serves to illustrate the plight of the multitudes of Zimbabweans and how it induces them to get away from the country.

Maikolu Jaison - 22 August 2017

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