JOHANNESBURG – Civil rights watchdog AfriForum warned on Sunday that the granting of diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe by the South African government is not the end of the matter and that the fight for justice would continue.
Grace‚ who is accused of assaulting a woman‚ Gabriella Engels‚ and hotel staff in Sandton‚ Johannesburg. last week‚ flew back to Zimbabwe with her husband‚ President Robert Mugabe‚ in the early hours of Sunday‚ according to reports from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
The couple were greeted by a delegation of government ministers when they arrived at Harare International Airport aboard an Air Zimbabwe aircraft‚ the state broadcaster said.
Their departure followed high-level discussions in South Africa to grant the Zimbwean first lady diplomatic immunity after her alleged hotel rampage.
Engels‚ who was allegedly struck with an electrical extension cord‚ laid assault charges against her. AfriForum‚ which is assisting Engels in the case‚ said on Sunday that the last word in the matter had not been spoken.
“Mrs Mugabe’s departure to Zimbabwe and the granting of diplomatic immunity by the South African government to her is however not the end of the matter‚” said Willie Spies‚ AfriForum’s legal representative.
He said that AfriForum had already given notice on Friday that the organisation would assist Engels in bringing a review application in order to set aside the decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe. “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.
“If the NPA refuses to prosecute‚ AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit‚ under the leadership of Adv. Gerrie Nel‚ is ready to go ahead with private prosecution on behalf of Miss Engels. Whether Mrs Mugabe is in South Africa or not and although diplomatic immunity has been granted to her‚ the last word has not been spoken regarding this matter‚” said Kallie Kriel‚ CEO of AfriForum.
“The fight for justice for Zimbabwe and for Miss Engels will therefore go ahead until it is won‚” added Spies.