NEWS
24/08/2017 06:31 SAST | Updated 24/08/2017 15:58 SAST

AfriForum: Minister Did Not Have Power To Grant Immunity To Grace Mugabe

AfriForum and Gabriella Engels filed court papers seeking to overturn Grace Mugabe's diplomatic immunity.

Advocate Gerrie Nel addresses a news conference with Gabriella Engels, who claims to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe, in Pretoria this month.
REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Advocate Gerrie Nel addresses a news conference with Gabriella Engels, who claims to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe, in Pretoria this month. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

AfriForum has filed papers in the high court in Pretoria, asking the court to set aside a decision by the minister of international relations and cooperation to grant Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity, TimesLive reported on Thursday.

Mugabe was granted immunity by minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane after it emerged that Mugabe allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old woman with an extension cord. Mugabe left the country without appearing in court, despite the fact that Engels had brought charges against her.

Last week, AfriForum said it would assist the victim Gabriella Engels in the matter. AfriForum's Willie Spies said he was confident of a successful review application.

"If the review application is successful (and there are very good grounds to believe that such an application will indeed be successful) the doors will be open for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute Mrs Mugabe," he said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she had "agonised" over the decision.

The department said among its considerations was the "need to uphold the rule of law, ensure fair administration of justice and uphold the rights of the complainant."

On Wednesday, Engels reportedly argued in her affidavit to court that the minister had misinterpreted Section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunity and Privileges Act, as she did not have the power to give Mugabe immunity.

She said the minister had also failed to take into account the seriousness of Mugabe's alleged crime.

She contended that the Foreign Immunities Act (1981) does not allow the granting of immunity to heads of state who are guilty of causing the death or injury of people in South Africa, TimesLive reported.

Immunity cannot be granted if the head of state in question did not also receive it, the affidavit reportedly states. The case will be heard in the next four or five months.