Dirco gives reasons for Grace Mugabe immunity

The department says 'the minister has agonised over this matter and the decision was not an easy one to make'.

FILE: The Department of International Relations & Cooperation. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has explained its reasons for granting diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe.

Mugabe is now back in Zimbabwe after she left the country in the early hours of Sunday morning alongside President Robert Mugabe.

She was charged with assault last week after she allegedly attacked Gabriella Engels at a hotel in Sandton.

Last week, the Zimbabwean government invoked diplomatic immunity and was awaiting a response from Dirco.

In a statement, the department says it is at Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s discretion to grant Mugabe immunity, citing the need to maintain good inter-governmental relations with the SADC region and the derivative immunity of spouses of heads of state.

The department says the minister carefully considered all the relevant factors, including the “need to uphold the rule of law, ensure fair administration of justice and uphold the rights of the complainant” and “the fact that the matter coincides with South Africa's hosting of the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.”

It then concludes by saying, “the Department wishes to convey the message that the minister has agonised over this matter and the decision was not an easy one to make.”

LISTEN: ‘I was attacked, assaulted by Grace Mugabe’