Grace Mugabe assault case 'not over'

Grace Mugabe assault case 'not over'
Published: 21 August 2017
The mother of Gabriella Engels - the 20-year-old South African model who has accused Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe of assaulting her - says their campaign for justice is not over, despite the fact that the South African government has given her diplomatic immunity to avoid criminal prosecution, Johannesburg-based Eyewitness News reports.

“The citizens of this country don’t matter to them [the South African government], as long as they can keep their allies happy and keep the political roles opened for themselves, it doesn’t matter,” Debbie Engels is quoted as saying.

“Our legal team is not just going to leave it at that,” she added.

Gabriella Engels laid a complaint of assault against Mrs Mugabe, 52, after accusing her of "beating the hell out of me" in a hotel in Sandton, an upmarket suburb north of Johannesburg, on 13 August.

However, South Africa's government gave her diplomatic immunity, allowing her to return home with her husband, Robert Mugabe, after a summit of regional leaders in South Africa.

Mr Mugabe and Mrs Mugabe have not yet commented on the controversy.

The South African government's decision came in a notice from International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, published in the Government Gazette on Sunday.

"I hereby recognise the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Grace Mugabe," she said.

A lawyer for Ms Engels told the BBC that they were planning to challenge the immunity decision in court.

Willie Spies said he would argue that the first lady should not have been given special treatment as she had been in South Africa on private business.
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