JOHANNESBURG — A South African attorney representing Gabriella Engels, who was allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe in a Sandton hotel a few days ago, says Mrs. Mugabe’s attempt for an out of court settlement has been rejected.
Advocate Gerrie Nel told VOA Studio 7 that Engels rejected the offer after she was approached by a third party, saying she is seeking justice.
“The victim was approached with an offer to pay an amount of money so that the matter would be settled but I’m really impressed with the victim. The victim and the family said they are not interested in the money, they are interested in justice and they rejected the offer out of hand.
Advocate Nel claimed that “the offer was come up with the amount and we will talk.”
He added that they will take civil action if Mrs. Mugabe is granted diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution.
“We haven’t discussed it because we are still convinced that the suspect will appear in court but should the suspect not appear and should there be diplomatic immunity then certainly one can look at the avenue of civil action.”
Advocate Nel said they have communicated with the relevant authorities handling the matter amid reports that top South African state officials are assessing the case.
“…We followed it up with the minister, we have indicated our understanding of the law. In terms of our understanding of the law she (Grace Mugabe) doesn’t qualify for political immunity and we have also made it clear that should she be granted immunity, diplomatic immunity, we will certainly review any decision in that regard and take it further because our understanding of the law is that she does not qualify for diplomatic immunity.”
He dismissed suggestions by some attorneys that they don’t stand a chance in getting a positive outcome in this case.
“We don’t agree with your legal experts, we have a different view … We are very confident that she does not have and she will not qualify for diplomatic immunity in this particular matter.”
Meanwhile, South African national police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo told VOA Studio 7 that the matter is now on hold. “There are no new developments. The suspect has applied for diplomatic immunity to be invoked. We are waiting for the outcome. The matter has been held in abeyance.”
Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Optional Protocols states that the establishment of diplomatic relations between States, and of permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent.