Grace Mugabe was ‘not entitled’ to diplomatic immunity

Grace Mugabe has admitted to hitting Gabriella Engels at a hotel in August last year, but has claimed she acted in self-defence.

FILE: Former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe.  Picture: AFP

PRETORIA - The High Court in Pretoria has heard that former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe should never have been granted diplomatic immunity because she was not entitled to it.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and AfriForum have approached the court to have the International Relations Department’s decision to grant Mugabe amnesty reviewed and set aside.

Mugabe has admitted to hitting Gabriella Engels at a hotel in August last year, but has claimed she acted in self-defence. She was allowed to leave the country without being prosecuted.

The DA and AfriForum have argued that granting Mugabe diplomatic immunity was unconstitutional and violated the rule of law.

The parties have rejected the International Relations Department’s argument that it was obliged under international law to recognise Mugabe’s immunity.

Counsel told the court that unlike a head of state where immunity is automatically granted, discretion is allowed where it relates to the head of state’s spouse, as was the case with Mugabe.

The Commission for Gender Equality said the decision was not in the interests of the country considering the prevalence of violence against women.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)