Diplomatic immunity for Grace Mugabe was unconstitutional, court hears

2018-05-10 17:22
Gabriella Engels in the North Gauteng High Court. (File photo: Amanda Khoza, News24)

Gabriella Engels in the North Gauteng High Court. (File photo: Amanda Khoza, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Former international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane acted unconstitutionally when she granted former Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe, diplomatic immunity.  

This is the argument of the counsel representing the Democratic Alliance in an application by lobby group AfriForum against the decision by Nkoane-Mashabane to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe. 

The case relates to an incident that happened in 2017, when the 52-year-old wife of former president Robert Mugabe allegedly beat up model Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel where her two sons were staying.

The matter is sitting before acting Judge Bashier Vally in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

READ: 'I want Grace Mugabe handed over for prosecution', says SA model whipped by ex-president's wife

The DA's legal heavyweight, advocate Anton Katz SC said: "Point two is that what the minister of international relations did in relation with Grace Mugabe was inconsistent with the Constitution.

"The day that Robert Mugabe ceased to be the president of the country, it would seem that there is an argument to be made that Grace Mugabe's immunity ceased to exist." 

Katz asked whether any immunity granted while Mugabe was still the president, was still valid.

"There was an event, of an alleged assault GBH, she got spousal immunity for that event."

Katz said the minister must explain the status of the immunity to the court.

"She has gotten it on the virtue of her office, not because of her work. That immunity ceases once you are no longer in office," he added.  

'The minister accepts that the immunity no longer exists'

Council for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Hilton Epstein SC, then interrupted.

"The minister's case is that she was allowed to grant spousal immunity under international customary law… Whether Mr Mugabe is no longer the president, the minister's position is that the law must take its course."

Epstein said: "The minister accepts that the immunity no longer exists."

Katz interrupted, saying: "He has just told the court that his client acted unlawfully." 

Vally said he did not think that Katz understood what Epstein was saying.

Katz suggested that South Africa's domestic laws only granted immunity to heads of state, and not to their spouses. 

"The minister says there is a woman who commits assault on another woman, the perpetrator is the spouse of a head of state, her country writes to the minister, saying please grant her immunity.

"Then the minister says, because of international law, she already has immunity." 

Katz submitted that the minister didn't seem to understand the law herself.

"...One would at least expect the minister to understand the power properly, before acting." 

Katz said the court should consider the matter, in the interest of justice.

The case continues.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    afriforum  |  maite nkoane-mashabane  |  grace mugabe  |  gabriella engels  |  zimbabwe  |  courts

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.