A South African government source says Grace Mugabe will be given diplomatic immunity, meaning she will avoid prosecution for an alleged assault on a 20-year-old model. David Doyle reports.
JOHANEESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA / PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA / VARIOUS, ZIMBABWE (REUTERS / SABC / DEBBIE ENGELS) – Grace Mugabe will be granted diplomatic immunity, a South African government source says, after allegedly assaulting a 20-year-old model.
That would allow Zimbabwe’s First Lady to return to Harare and avoid prosecution but it’s contrary to what South African police have indicated.
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE MINISTER, FIKILE MBALULA,
“We have already put tabs on the borders.”
They’ve put frontier crossings on “red alert” to prevent Mugabe from fleeing the country and said “Gucci Grace”, as she is nicknamed, will receive no special treatment.
But a senior government source said Friday (August 18) there was “no way” Mugabe would be arrested because of the potential diplomatic fall out from Zimbabwe.
Gabriella Engels accuses Mugabe of whipping her with an electric extension cable as she waited with friends at a luxury Johannesburg hotel to meet one of Mugabe’s sons.
Mugabe, who some speculate is being groomed as her husband’s successor, was in South Africa for medical treatment. That means she is not entitled to diplomatic immunity, legal experts say.
Engels’ legal team, which includes Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor who secured a murder conviction against Oscar Pistorius, is expected to challenge any move to let Mugabe go.
GABRIELLA ENGELS’ MOTHER, DEBBIE ENGELS,
“I really hope that they don’t give her (Grace Mugabe) the immunity, I hope a warrant of arrest is issued and that she must have a day in court. She must have a day in court – I want justice for my daughter.”
Robert Mugabe is now in South Africa as well. He’s there for a regional summit, though the government source said he had arrived two days early to help resolve his wife’s legal problems.
South Africa’s Foreign Ministry and a lawyer for Mugabe both declined to comment.