A court in South Africa, Monday, ruled that a former Zimbabwe first lady, Grace Mugabe, should not have been granted diplomatic immunity when she allegedly beat a young model with an electrical cable.
Police had stopped Mrs. Mugabe from fleeing South Africa in August 2017 after model Gabriella Engels accused Mugabe of attacking her in a luxury Johannesburg hotel as punishment for spending time with Mugabe’s two sons.
But after some interactions, she was later allowed to flee as South African officials granted her diplomatic immunity. Her husband, Robert Mugabe, was president of Zimbabwe at the time.
Judge Bashier Vally said the Foreign Ministry’s decision was “inconsistent with the constitution” and struck it down.
Engels said Mugabe burst into her room in a luxury hotel and started whipping her with a cable. At the time Engels shared photos showing gashes to her head and bruising on her thighs.
Mugabe denied the allegations, saying she was acting in self-defense against an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels.
The legal agency that represented Engels, Afriforum, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should now seek Mugabe’s extradition from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Lawyer Willie Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Mugabe.
NPA spokeswoman Phindi Mjnonondwana said police were still responsible for the case.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), supported the latest ruling.
“This is a great day for justice, the rule of law and shows that nobody is above the law,” said party chairman James Selfe in a statement.
“The South African government chose to put the politics of expediency above the rule of law.”