Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Grace Mugabe To Face Trial For Assaulting Model

A South African court has annulled a government decision to grant Zimbabwe's former First Lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity in an assault case.

The decision was "inconsistent with the constitution", the court ruled.

Mrs Mugabe was accused of assaulting a young model, Gabriella Engels, in a hotel in South Africa's main city, Johannesburg, in 2017. South Africa allowed Mrs Mugabe, 53, to return home after she applied for diplomatic immunity.

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 Mr 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 model said she was waiting for Mrs Mugabe's son, Chatunga, when the-then first lady burst into the hotel room and assaulted her, leaving her with a gash on her forehead and other injuries on her thighs.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said the ruling was a "great day for justice", and an arrest warrant should be issued for Mrs Mugabe.

"The South African government chose to put the politics of expediency above the rule of law," DA chairman James Selfe said.

The government has not yet indicated whether it will appeal against the ruling or accept it.

Lobby group AfriForum, acting on behalf of Ms Engels, challenged the South African government's decision to grant Mrs Mugabe immunity rather than prosecute her.

It said it wanted Mrs Mugabe to be arrested and put on trial if she ever returned to South Africa, where her family reportedly owns properties in upmarket areas.