In a shock announcement in court today, the embassy of Zimbabwe revealed that it had removed itself from any more involvement in the matter between Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe and model Gabriella Engels, who is being represented by civil rights group AfriForum.
“Intimidation” was given as the reason, when Advocate Simba Chitondo, who is acting on behalf of the embassy, told the media today that they would no longer be participating in the proceedings.
“The conduct of various individuals in this matter leaves the future of the Zimbabwean embassy undesirable,” Chitondo said. He did not go into detail about the alleged forms of intimidation he had received, but said that the consul-general of Zimbabwe’s embassy in South Africa had seen these threats against him.
Engels laid charges of assault against Mugabe after Mugabe allegedly hit her with an extension cord on August 13. The incident took place at a Sandton hotel when Engels was with Mugabe’s sons.
Mugabe, however, disputed this, and claimed that Engels had threated her with a knife.
Engels’ mother, Debbie, told the media on September 19 outside the North Johannesburg High Court that the accusation was unfounded.
“I don’t want to even respond to that; it’s just a pathetic attempt to get off this whole thing. I don’t see how she even gets to the point where she can say that my daughter wanted to attack her with a knife when she’s got so many bodyguards surrounding her all the time,” Debbie Engels said.
On September 19, judgment was reserved after AfriForum made arguments to the court in a bid to get the diplomatic immunity, which was granted to Mugabe, set aside.
Today, acting judge Harshila Koovertjie referred the matter to the opposed motion roll, and ruled that the Zimbabwean High Commission had seven days to appeal AfriForum’s representation that Mugabe be listed as a first respondent in Engels’ court case against Mugabe.