Grace Mugabe portrayed as victim over assault claim
Publish date: 11 September 2017
Issue Number: 742
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly denied that she assaulted a young South African model, Gabriella Engels, after she allegedly found her with her sons at a Sandon hotel last month. According to a statement dated 17 August and reportedly seen by Reuters, she dismissed Engels' version of events as 'malicious'. A report on the News24 site notes that the First Lady portrayed herself as the victim after intervening on behalf of her sons Bellarmine Chatunga and Robert Mugabe jnr who were 'in trouble with a drunken young woman'. 'Ms Engels, who was intoxicated and unhinged, attacked Dr Grace Mugabe with a knife after she was asked to leave the hotel,' the statement claims. South Africa granted Mugabe diplomatic immunity, allowing her to evade immediate prosecution for assault.
Another scenario in which the executive was allowed to escape accountability for its actions played out in SA's Parliament on Thursday, notes Legalbrief. At issue was the granting of immunity to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace. At least three Peace and Security Cluster Ministers – Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula – did their best to distance themselves from the decision. Rather, notes a News24 report, they referred the bulk of the questions to International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who was noticeably absent on the day, despite a resolution at last week's Chief Whips' Forum that she would avail herself. DA and IFP Chief Whips John Steenhuisen and Narend Singh both raised points of order during the sitting around Nkoana-Mashabane's absence. ‘It makes a joke of this House's responsibility to hold the executive accountable,’ Steenhuisen said. 'We were assured yesterday (Wednesday) in the Chief Whips' Forum that the leader of government business wrote to the Minister,’ said Singh. ‘What made the matter worse, is not a single representative (a reference to her two deputies, who were also absent) of hers is here. It's totally unacceptable.’
The DA claims Nkoana-Mashabane ‘has refused’ to appear before Parliament's Committee on International Relations to provide reasons for her decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe, says a report on the Polity site. The DA said the chairperson of the committee, Moses Masango, had confirmed to it on 23 August that the Minister would be called to appear before the committee. ‘Today, however, the DA received a letter from the Minister saying that she will not be appearing in front of the committee to explain her decision. Mashabane claimed that since the DA had submitted an application to the High Court, the matter was now sub judice. This is blatant misuse of the sub judice rule which does not apply in this case,’ the DA said. The party added the role of oversight and accountability could not be overruled by the sub judice rule and this was a poor attempt by the Minister to escape accountability. ‘The DA believes Minister Mashabane took an illegal and unconstitutional decision. That is why we have approached the Constitutional Court in this regard,’ said the DA.