Gabriella Engels and rights group AfriForum have filed court papers challenging the decision by the South African government to grant diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe’s first lady‚ Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe was accused by 20-year-old Engels of assaulting her and two friends at a luxury Johannesburg hotel last week.
She flew out of the country under the cover of darkness at the weekend after Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane controversially granted her diplomatic immunity.
Engels‚ with the assistance of AfriForum‚ intends to challenge Nkoana-Mashabane’s decision. In the notice filed to the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday‚ they want the court to review and set aside the decision by the minister to grant Mugabe immunity.
Further‚ the applicants want the court to declare that the decision to grant Mugabe immunity doesn’t mean she won’t be prosecuted.
In her founding affidavit‚ Engels details how she and a friend visited “acquaintances” at the Capital West 20 Hotel in Sandton‚ when Grace Mugabe “burst into the hotel room and assaulted me in the presence of her bodyguards“.
“She used an electric cord with a plug at the end of it and I was … hit over the forehead‚ causing a gash which has serious repercussions for my appearance and my professional career as a model‚” Engels said in the affidavit.
“I have laid a criminal charge of assault with the South African Police Services at Sandton Police Station‚” she said.
“I am the complainant in these proceedings and‚ intend persisting in these criminal proceedings whether by means of a State or private prosecution‚” her statement read.
The application argues that the decision to grant immunity to Grace Mugabe “lacks legality and … should be declared invalid“.
Engels argues that the minister “misconstrued her powers” in the process.