A South African court has overturned a government decision to grant the wife of former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe diplomatic immunity in connection to her alleged assault of a South African model with an extension cord.
The decision was “inconsistent with the constitution”, the court ruled. Grace Mugabe was accused of assaulting a young model, Gabriella Engels, in a hotel in South Africa’s main city, Johannesburg, in 2017.
Last August, Grace Mugabe was allowed to return to Harare after former minister of international relations and cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane granted her immunity, to return home after she applied for diplomatic immunity.
“That the minister has the power to confer immunity on Dr Mugabe is neither doubtful or debatable,” the judge said, according to News 24. “She, however, has to exercise this power in a manner that is constitutional and lawful.”
Mrs Mugabe said at the time that she had acted in self-defence after the “intoxicated and unhinged” model attacked her in a hotel room where her two sons lived.
The alleged assault took place about three months before the military takeover in Zimbabwe which saw Robert Mugabe resign as president after 37 years in power. The court ruling comes on the same day as Zimbabweans go to the polls in the first vote since Robert Mugabe was ousted.
Ms Engels accused Mrs Mugabe of beating the “hell out of me” with an electric extension cord, in an incident which made international headlines.
The South African Police Service (Saps) investigated the alleged assault but declined to prosecute after then-Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane granted Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity.