Former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe in hot soup, SA court issues her warrant of arrest

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Lobby group AfriForum has announced that an arrest warrant has been issued against former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe for the alleged assault of South African model Gabriella Engels.

In July, AfriForum won a High Court application to review and set aside the government’s decision to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

Mugabe allegedly assaulted Engels at a hotel in August last year. She claimed that she was acting in self-defence.

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AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel says after their successful High Court application, the matter was referred to the police for investigation.

"Police investigated the matter and we can report now that a warrant of arrest has been issued for Grace Mugabe so it seems that justice is going to take place and I also want to thank Advocate Gerrie Nel and his team for playing a huge role to get this matter to this point where there can be justice for Gabriella Engels."

It is understood that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has informed Engels of its decision.

It is, however, unclear at this stage what steps will be taken to ensure that Grace Mugabe appears in court.

In May, former international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was accused of deliberately misinterpreting international law to stop Mugabe from facing criminal prosecution in South Africa.

Legal argument was presented in the High Court in Pretoria, where the Democratic Alliance and AfriForum asked the court to set aside Mashabane’s decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe.

This followed an incident in August last year when the then first lady allegedly stormed into a Sandton hotel room and assaulted South African model Gabriella Engelbrecht – who was in the company of Mugabe’s sons – with an extension cord.

Freedom Under Law, the Commission for Gender Equality and the Woman’s Legal Centre Trust also submitted legal argument in the matter as friends of the court.

Etienne Labuschagne SC, for Engels and AfriForum, argued that Engels had laid a criminal charge against Mugabe, but could not proceed with the criminal case unless the court set aside Mugabe’s immunity.

The minister denied granting immunity to the former first lady, but insisted that she was under an obligation in terms of international law to recognise Mugabe’s immunity.

Karrisha Pillay, for the Woman’s Legal Centre Trust, argued that the consequence of the minister’s decision created an unjustified hierarchy of who was or was not prosecuted for violent acts in South Africa, which violated the right to be free from all violent acts guaranteed by the Constitution.

Engelbrecht told reporters she hoped Mugabe came back to South Africa to account for what she did and was happy that the ball was finally rolling, but left everything in God’s hands.

It was reported in the Sunday press this weekend that she has continued to be subjected to harassment by the Mugabe family and their supporters in South Africa, who want her to drop the case.


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