NEWS
23/08/2017 13:20 SAST | Updated 23/08/2017 13:20 SAST

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane Must Explain To Parliament Why She Let Grace Mugabe Go

"South Africa cannot be treated as a playground for international criminals.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (3rd R) and his wife Grace (2nd R) are greeted by South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (R) upon their  arrival at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria on April 7, 2015, for an official state visit.
STEFAN HEUNIS via Getty Images
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (3rd R) and his wife Grace (2nd R) are greeted by South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (R) upon their arrival at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria on April 7, 2015, for an official state visit.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will be hauled in front of a parliamentary committee to account for her decision to grant diplomatic immunity to assault-accused Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe.

A decision was taken on Wednesday by the International Relations and Co-operation Portfolio Committee at the request of the Democratic Alliance to have Nkoana-Mashabane explain the rationale behind letting Mugabe return to her home country.

Mugabe's diplomatic immunity application was only made after assault allegations had been made against her by 20-year old South African model, Gabriella Engels.

The DA says the diplomatic immunity granted to Mugabe is therefore highly irregular.

Read: Grace Mugabe: Immunity, Or Impunity? Legal Experts Say SA Got It All Wrong

"South Africa cannot be treated as a playground for international criminals. International relations can never justify trampling on the rights of our people," the party's Stevens Mokgalapa said.

"This is a matter of utmost importance and Chairperson [Moses Masango] needs to ensure that a date for this meeting is scheduled with the minister urgently. The DA will make sure the minister fully accounts for her decision to let [Mugabe] go."

The 52-year-old wife of President Robert Mugabe was accused of beating model Engels on August 13 at a Johannesburg hotel where her two sons were staying.

Engels sustained deep cuts to her forehead and the back of her head and registered a case with the police the next day.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she considered several factors before landing on her final decision on granting Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

These included the imperative to maintain good intergovernmental relations within the SADC region, and in particular, between South Africa and Zimbabwe.