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No respite for Grace Mugabe

Three South African rights groups have joined forces with the opposition Democratic Alliance to appeal to the courts to set aside the diplomatic immunity granted to former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe to shield her from being prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a South African model Gabriela Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in August.

Grace Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity in controversial circumstances as she was not on an official visit to South Africa.

Reports from South Africa say International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane argued that as the wife of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, at the time, Grace Mugabe had “spousal immunity” under international law.

But more importantly, she said not granting her immunity would have had serious implications for international relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe and would have caused chaos and collapsed the Southern African Development Community summit which South Africa was hosting.

The reports say the High Court in Pretoria has granted leave to Freedom Under Law, the Commission for Gender Equality and the Women’s Legal Centre Trust to intervene in the Democratic Alliance’s application to have the immunity of Grace Mugabe lifted.

Engels is also pursuing her case separately with the help of Afrikaaner rights group Afriforum.

Grace Mugabe, who was placed under house arrest when the military intervened on 15 November forcing her husband to resign six days later, left for Singapore on Monday wither husband who is due for medical check-up.

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