South African President Jacob Zuma was yesterday grilled by legislators over his government’s decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe, following accusations she assaulted a model in that country last month.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Zuma professed ignorance on the matter, then bizarrely said he was not a lawyer and was not directly involved in the saga.
“I am not a lawyer, I don’t know what happened and how the matter at the end, came to a point that it came (sic).
“So all I am saying is that action was taken.
“The police were there and they dealt with the matter and the issue of diplomatic condition came about and actions were taken.
“All I am saying is [that] I can’t answer that detail, I can’t lie.
“What do you say the truth has run away (sic)?” he said.
“Firstly, I have not opened the country to any abuse.
“If somebody, part of the reason why we have the laws in the country is that when somebody commits a crime here, there are law enforcement entities that deal with that and so far, as the matter you are referring to, the police were very active and they were very involved in dealing with that matter.”
This came as the South African High Court will sit on September 19 to hear the first part of a court application filed against Grace over the diplomatic immunity granted to her following her alleged attack on model Gabriella Engels.
Engels’ court application was filed last week in Gauteng by AfriForum lawyers.
The model’s lawyer, Willie Spies of Hurter Spies Attorneys Inc, confirmed the latest developments in emailed responses to NewsDay.
“The first part of our application will be heard on September 19, 2017,” he said.
Engels’ mother, Debbie, also told NewsDay the first part of the court application was set for hearing in just over two weeks’ time.
Grace is cited as the second respondent, while South Africa’s International Relations and Co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is cited as the first respondent.
The first part of the court application seeks authorisation to serve Grace with papers concerning her alleged attack on Engels.
It also states: “In the event of the second respondent [Grace] wishing to oppose the relief set out in Part B, she is directed to file her notice of opposition 30 days from the date of service of this order and in such notice of opposition to appoint attorneys with an address in terms of rule 6(5)(b) of the Uniform Rules of Court, at which address she will accept further service of notices and process in these proceedings.”
If the authorisation is granted, papers are expected to be served to Grace through the Office of the President in Zimbabwe and she will have 30 days to respond.
October 19 has been set as the tentative date for the earliest possible hearing into the case.
South Africa’s official opposition party, Democratic Alliance, has also filed papers at the Constitutional Court challenging Nkoana-Mashabane’s decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace.
The party wants the immunity to be declared unconstitutional.
Under South Africa’s Foreign States Immunities Act of 87 of 1981, if “death or injury” is committed, criminal prosecution can be carried out against a foreign national with diplomatic immunity.
Grace reportedly attacked Engels on August 13 at the Capital 20 West Hotel in the swanky suburb of Sandton, where her sons Bellarmine Chatunga and Robert Jnr were partying.