What happens now that #GraceMugabe has lost her diplomatic immunity?

FILE Former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe

What happens now that #GraceMugabe has lost her diplomatic immunity?

Former Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe can no longer use diplomatic immunity as protection from possible prosecution for assault, following a High Court judgment which set aside immunity granted to her previous year.

The decision to grant her diplomatic immunity was taken by former minister of worldwide relations and cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane after Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels in a luxury hotel in Sandton in August a year ago.

Mrs Mugabe was accused of assaulting a young model, Gabriella Engels, in a hotel in South Africa's main city, Johannesburg, in 2017.

However, she was granted diplomatic immunity by South Africa's former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, allowing her to leave the country.

Engels was allegedly assaulted with an extension cord in a Sandton hotel after Mugabe found her in the room with her sons last August.

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"That the minister has the power to confer immunity on Dr Mugabe is neither doubtful or debatable", Judge Vally said.

Her husband, Robert Mugabe, was president of Zimbabwe at the time. "We are happy with the fact that she will be able to give her side of the story and let the law take its course", Kriel added.

The ruling has now paved the way for Mugabe to be extradited to face charges.

The International Relations Department claimed that it did not grant the immunity, but rather recognised it under international law.

NPA spokeswoman Phindi Mjnonondwana said police were still responsible for the case.

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"In just the same way the South African government did in the [Omar] al-Bashir matter, the South African government chose to put the politics of expediency above the rule of law", Selfe said.

Willie Spies, AfriForum's attorney, said if the minister, who is now Lindiwe Sisulu, did not appeal against the judgment, the immunity was set aside and the door was open for Mugabe to be prosecuted.

- Barry Bateman, EWN reporterShe should have been arrested and brought before the court and it would've been argued in court whether she should be granted immunity.

The DA said condoning such behaviour could not be in the interest of South Africa or justice.

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