South Africa grants Zimbabwe's first lady immunity over assault claims

Robert Mugabe Junior

The tit-for-tat between the two countries comes as Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe, faces allegations of assaulting a young South African female model at a luxury hotel in Johannesburg.

According to South Africa's police minister Fikile Mbalula, the whereabouts of Grace who is still in the country is unknown as border officials have been asked to be at alert should she try to flee the country.

"What we will carry on with is a review application [of the decision] to grant her immunity", said Afriforum's legal representative Willie Spies. The indications so far are that she was visiting South Africa in her personal capacity.

John Steenhuisen, a senior opposition figure, compared the South African handling of the Mugabe case to the government's decision to allow the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, to leave the country in 2015 even though he was wanted by the worldwide criminal court for alleged war crimes.

Grace Mugabe has reportedly been granted diplomatic immunity.

"Those countries that have traditionally been supportive of Zimbabwe would lambast South Africa for arresting Mrs Mugabe and prosecuting her", Kajee said.

And lawyers working with the model said they will go to court to challenge the South African government if it is confirmed that immunity was granted to Mugabe.

Engels has denied that she knew the Mugabe brothers and said she met them on the day of the assault.

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It appears that Mugabe has been granted diplomatic immunity after all.

Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe, arrived home in Harare on Sunday - but that doesn't mean the controversy she's linked to in South Africa has died down.

Engels' mother Debbie, who released photographs of her daughter with gashes to her head requiring 14 stitches, said it would be "very sad" if Grace Mugabe was allowed to leave. "The next thing she hit my friend who was closest to her with the cord".

Maswanganyi said the South African civil aviation regulations require an operator to be in possession of a Foreign Operator's Permit in order to conduct operations in South Africa.

Mugabe has two sons, who are residing in South Africa.

Monyela's counterpart at the SA Police Service‚ Sally De Beer‚ was no more forthcoming‚ saying that she has never commented on the matter and referred TimesLIVE to her colleague at the police service‚ Vishnu Naidoo. She attacked a British photographer Richard Jones in Hong Kong in 2009 and got off the hook when she was granted diplomatic immunity.

Zimbabwe's outspoken first lady has always been criticized for a fiery temper and lavish shopping expeditions, but her rising political profile has some asking whether she is maneuvering to succeed her husband. But she is not giving up, The Times reported on Monday.

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