Grace Mugabe's diplomatic immunity was unconstitutional, South African court rules

The former first lady of Zimbabwe was allowed to flee after allegedly beating a young woman with a cable. Lawyers have called for Mugabe to now be extradited.

A South African court on Monday ruled that Zimbabwe's former first lady, Grace Mugabe, should not have been granted diplomatic immunity when she allegedly beat a young model with an electrical cable.

Police halted Mugabe from fleeing South Africa in August 2017 after model Gabriella Engels accused Mugabe of attacking her in a luxury Johannesburg hotel as punishment for spending time with Mugabe's two sons.

But she was later allowed to flee after South African officials granted her diplomatic immunity. Her husband, Robert Mugabe, was president of Zimbabwe at the time.

Judge Bashier Vally said the Foreign Ministry's decision was "inconsistent with the constitution" and struck it down.

Engels said Mugabe burst into her room in a luxury hotel and started whipping her with a cable. At the time Engels shared photos showing gashes to her head and bruising on her thighs.

Mugabe denied the allegations, saying she was acting in self defense against an "intoxicated and unhinged" Engels.

Lawyers seek extradition

The legal agency that represented Engels, Afriforum, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should now seek Mugabe's extradition from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Lawyer Willie Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Mugabe.

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

South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), supported the latest ruling.

"This is a great day for justice, the rule of law and shows that nobody is above the law," said party chairman James Selfe in a statement.

"The South African government chose to put the politics of expediency above the rule of law."

aw/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here

Watch video 01:24
Now live
01:24 mins.
Business | 30.07.2018

Zimbabweans hope for economic upswing post elections