Will Grace Mugabe face extradition now that immunity has been set aside?

Robert and Grace Mugabe. Picture: File
Robert and Grace Mugabe. Picture: File

The South Gauteng High Court has set aside the decision to grant former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

Judge Bashier Vally handed down the judgment on Monday and said that the decision to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity was illegal and unconstitutional. The Democratic Alliance is now calling for Mugabe to be issued with an arrest warrant.

Mugabe was involved in a physical altercation with South African model Gabriella Engels last year, when Mugabe had found her in a Sandton hotel with her two sons.

During the altercation, Engels sustained injuries to her head, and claimed that Mugabe had hit her with an electric plug.

Mugabe then counter-claimed that she had acted in self-defence.

The case was taken up by AfriForum, who pursued the matter after Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity and was allowed to leave the country for her home country of Zimbabwe.

The decision to grant her diplomatic immunity was made by former international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, even though Mugabe was in the country in her personal capacity at the time. Vally said her decision was inconsistent with provisions in the Constitution.

Nkoana-Mashabane has also been ordered by the judge to pay the costs of the application‚ brought by the DA.

“Following this judgment, an arrest warrant for Grace Mugabe must be reissued for the assault of Ms Engels and we expect the South African government to work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that Ms Mugabe returns to South Africa and has her day in court to answer for her actions,” the DA’s James Selfe said.

Attorney Willie Spies appeared in court on behalf of AfriForum and said that there was now no hurdle in the way of the National Prosecuting Authority to do its work.

“It’s a sound and simple case. The NPA can now start proceedings to have Ms Mugabe extradited. The charges were laid last year already; there is a docket, there are witnesses ... it’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling,” he said.

Mugabe stood at her husband’s side this weekend in Zimbabwe on the eve of the national elections which saw thousands of citizens queueing at the polling stations.

During his first public address, disgraced former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe expressed to the media on Sunday that his wife should be left alone.

“I don’t accept the vilification of my wife. They attack her through newspapers. Leave my wife alone, I want Grace to remain my Grace,” he said.

Grace was touted to become the president of the country last year, before attempts at this takeover were quickly thwarted during a military coup when the controversial first family was ousted out of power.

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