FUL: Dept erred in granting Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity

Grace Mugabe is accused of assaulting Gabriella Engels at a hotel in August last year but was allowed to leave the country without being prosecuted.

FILE: Former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe attends the opening of the annual agricultural fair on 25 August 2017 in Harare. Picture: AFP

PRETORIA – The High Court in Pretoria has heard that government had no regard for the rights of former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe’s victim when she was granted diplomatic immunity.

This was among the arguments submitted on Thursday in an application by several parties, including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and AfriForum to set aside Mugabe’s immunity from prosecution.

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.

Freedom Under Law argued that the International Relations Department committed an error in law when it granted Mugabe immunity from prosecution and had scant regard for the rights of her victim.

The DA and AfriForum earlier told the court that the former first lady was not entitled to 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.

The International Relations Department submitted that granting of the immunity does not condone violent behaviour but it was obliged to in terms of the law.