Source: ‘Grace not off the hook just yet’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 8, 2017
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe is not off the hook just yet, as the case in which she is accused of battering a 20-year-old South African model, Gabriella Engels, is being considered by the neighbouring country’s Parliament and courts.
This was said yesterday by South African Deputy President
Cyril Ramaphosa, who was responding to a question in Parliament on whether the granting of diplomatic immunity to Grace was legal.
“This is a difficult case in terms of balancing diplomatic conventions as well as protocols against the imperatives of natural justice. In the end, it is the courts of our country who will make a determination,” he said.
Ramaphosa said International Relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had used Section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act to grant Grace immunity and had since sent correspondence to the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife reportedly stormed a hotel room in which her two sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga Bellarmine, were having a party with women, who included Engels.
Grace is said to have flown into a fit of rage, assaulting anyone in sight using an electric extension cable, leaving Engels with a deep cut on her forehead, among other injuries.
The attack nearly triggered a diplomatic tiff that was averted at the 11th hour, but early this week South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called Mugabe to order after the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader made uncomplimentary remarks about the late anti-apartheid icon and South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Ramaphosa added that South Africa’s parliamentary portfolio committee on International Relations was also looking into the matter, while the court application brought by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and civil rights group AfriForum was also pending.
“Both the DA and AfriForum have approached the courts to review this decision, which they are perfectly entitled to do. I trust that this House, through the portfolio committee process and taking into account the court proceedings that are currently underway, will deal with the matter on whether or not the minister’s decision was appropriate,” he said.
“There are two processes underway and even if we may feel that the one may not produce the required results, but certainly, the court process, through the exercises of the power that our judiciary has, they will be able to deliver a judgment in this regard and we would be able to know what should have happened.”
Nkoana-Mashabane also drew the ire of DA MPs after failing to appear before the portfolio committee on International Relations to answer questions on Grace’s issue, which drew international condemnation.
The minister reportedly sent a letter to the committee, arguing she could not appear because the DA’s High Court application made the matter sub judice. But the DA argued this was “blatant misuse of the sub judice rule”.
Mugabe’s government and the ruling Zanu PF party have remained tight-lipped over the issue.