Following ratification, local legislation has to be enacted to give effect to the convention. In South Africa, this happens through the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act of 2001.
Diplomatic protection only applies to people in the course of conducting official state business. As Mugabe was reportedly travelling in her private capacity, she may therefore be prosecuted.
Deputy director-general of the department of international relations and cooperation, Clayson Monyela, told Africa Check: “The lady [Grace Mugabe] is appearing in court. The only way that can happen is if she was arrested or turned herself in. This wouldn’t have happened if she had diplomatic immunity.”
“In my case, when I travel on business, I use my diplomatic passport. But when I go on holiday, I have to use my private passport. I am not allowed to use my diplomatic passport.”
Three courses of action are possible when someone enjoying diplomatic immunity commits a crime.
“The first remedy is that the person can be declared persona non grata,” Strydom said. This means he or she will be expelled from the host country.
The second is that the country of origin could revoke immunity. Monyela provided an example: “Say you are a South African diplomat and you are posted somewhere. Whilst you are there you commit a crime, like murder, and it comes to the attention of South Africa.
“Your country can revoke your immunity dependent on the crime you have committed. But if they don’t revoke it the host country can’t charge you.”
The last option is that the country of origin could prosecute the person back home.
This is not the first time the issue of diplomatic immunity has been raised because of Grace Mugabe’s actions. In 2009, Mugabe’s diplomatic immunity protected her from arrest after she allegedly assaulted a British photographer in Hong Kong.- Africa Check