DA heads for ConCourt over Grace Mugabe’s diplomatic immunity

25 August 2017 - 13:56
By Penwell Dlamini
First Lady Grace Mugabe at a rally in July. File photo.
Image: Reuters First Lady Grace Mugabe at a rally in July. File photo.

The Democratic Alliance has filed papers with the Constitutional Court requesting direct access to argue that the diplomatic immunity granted to Zimbabwe’s first lady was without legal merit.

In an official statement the DA said the decision taken by Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to grant Grace Mugabe should be set aside because it is without legal merit and should thus be declared unconstitutional and invalid.

“The DA believes that the decision by the minister‚ in granting immunity‚ was hasty‚ embarrassing and‚ above all‚ illegal and unconstitutional. It is‚ frankly‚ unconscionable that after the scathing ruling by the Constitutional Court in the [Sudanese President Omar] al-Bashir matter that the ANC-led government would once again let a high profile person escape justice in South Africa.

“It is clear that Grace Mugabe was granted immunity simply to shield her from being tried in a court of law for her assault on Gabriella Engels and two others on 13 August 2017. Condoning such behaviour‚ as the granting of immunity did‚ cannot possibly be in the interests of South Africa. There is therefore no legal basis for such a decision‚” the statement.

“Grace Mugabe is not a member of the Zimbabwean government and she was in South Africa on personal business. There is nothing in either South African or international law which renders her deserving of diplomatic immunity.”

Mugabe is accused of assaulting 20-year-old Gabriella Engels and her two friends at a luxury Johannesburg hotel last week.

She flew out of the country under the cover of darkness at the weekend after Nkoana-Mashabane controversially granted her diplomatic immunity.

Engels and AfriForum have already filed papers with the high court in Pretoria challenging the decision to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

The DA filed the papers on Wednesday.