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‘Impossible’ for Grace Mugabe to have a diplomatic passport – international law specialist

By James de Villiers and Jenni Evans, News24

Cape Town – It is impossible for Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe to invoke diplomatic immunity if a diplomatic passport was not gazetted in advance of her trip, an international law specialist has told News24.

Gabriella Engels claims that Grace Mugabe attacked her with the plug of an extension cord
Gabriella Engels claims that Grace Mugabe attacked her with the plug of an extension cord

Diplomatic passports are issued within strict guidelines and usually only applies for the specific purpose of the official’s visit, immigration lawyer Craig Smith from Craig Smith & Associates told News24 on Wednesday.

Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, was in SA to receive medical care for an injured foot, the Zimbabwe Mail reported.

She allegedly assaulted 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels in a Sandton Hotel on Sunday, August 13.

“I doubt very much that a diplomatic passport was gazetted for her. Now that she’s facing trumped up charges, Zimbabwean authorities are trying their level-best to find a way to get her off the hook,” Smith said.

“If she did receive medical care on South African soil she would’ve further been required to get an additional visa from the Department of Home Affairs.”

No clarification

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola declined to clarify whether a medical visa was issued to Mugabe and referred all enquiries to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco).

Section 6.2 of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 37 of 2001 (amended in 2008) reads: ”The Minister [of international relations] must by notice in the Gazette recognise a specific conference or meeting …”

It is unclear whether such a gazette ever appeared.

When News24 asked Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela on Thursday about whether the gazette appeared or not, he declined to confirm or deny anything.

“I am referring your inquiry back to the police. Let’s end the conversation. I don’t have anything further to add on this matter.”

However, when News24 told Monyela that both the SA Police Service and the Department of Home Affairs had directed all queries to Dirco, he responded by repeatedly saying: “I don’t have anything to add on this matter. I wish I could assist you, but I really am not in a position to assist you.”

He then referred News24 back to the police for further comment on Mugabe’s status in the country.

Diplomatic immunity

National police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo told News24 that nobody had been arrested or questioned yet for the Engels assault and referred questions on whether the immunity had been granted to Dirco.

”No I can’t answer that. We don’t grant diplomatic immunity,” said Naidoo, when informed that Dirco had referred any questions to the police.

According to attorney Ulrich Roux, diplomatic immunity is not automatic.

”You need to apply for it,” said Roux, a director at BDK Attorneys.

Circumstances for applying for diplomatic immunity could include not being aware that an action was a crime in another country, or if the crime was committed in furtherance of their own country’s interests.

It is extended only to a diplomat such as a president, or to people close to the president’s Cabinet, and then only if they are on diplomatic duty.

An example would be if they had been sent to a country by their own country in order to further their own country’s trade negotiations.

“In other words, a diplomatic trip,” explained Roux.

“Obviously, this is not the case of Grace Mugabe. She is not part of a president’s diplomatic party.”

Lawlessness

Roux said Grace Mugabe should be subjected to normal processes and be investigated.

Anything else would result in lawlessness around the world by diplomats’ families, concluded Roux.

Mugabe could face a charge of assault for the beating.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula previously said Mugabe was expected to appear in court on Tuesday, August 15, but on Wednesday the police ministry said the 52-year-old first lady never handed herself over to police.

“The suspect remains in South Africa,” the police ministry said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

The ministry said Grace Mugabe is expected to attend a Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting underway in Pretoria, as well as attend to “personal matters”.

  • KJWE

    Knowing Disgrace probably got one through the backdoor and not using the front door
    Dear disgrace always making headlines for the wrong reasons

  • Yaa good

  • Yeah the bitch was on personal business to get treatment they mustn’t twist the story to suit their selfish agenda.

  • Mutengesimukuru

    “Now that she is facing trumped up charges….” Said Smith. Does Mr Smith know the meaning of the words trumped up charges?

  • Pamuchaona grace aZim ndopamucha bvuma.

  • Realist

    Google Africorum SA Gerrie Nel says prosecutor is now applying for a warrant and that Grace offered some compensation that has been rejected

  • This is going to be interesting.

  • She must feel the hand of an uncaptured judiciary system.Violence got bounderies Grace A victim of her sexually transmitted degree which failed to tell her that she is not in the country on a diplomatic mission.

  • Chakachaya

  • The outcome of this case is similar to a delayed match. You watch it at your own peril for memory’s sake, already played and results known.

  • This is a political matter and it will have a political ending.why are those boys not getting deported coz the mother confessed that they were doing drugs.of coz nothing will happen to her but she felt the heat

  • It’s just a fine 100 Rand’s end off. Hapana nyaya apa.

  • African Union damn people are you really that uninformed. In Africa Grace can do whatever she wants African leaders love Mugabe. Mugabes is the one and only African leader who can stand toe to toe with whites without fear and confront them remember that he has what nobody else other than the dead Kadaffi had. Nehanda Radio is fooling everybody there is a white man behind it with serious agenda against blacks. Lies upon lies and information without evidence. I don’t support Mugabes or ZANU PF but I am for truth and facts.

    • did whites sent grace to beat people around , and those pipo she disposed their land in mazowe , it was whites again dude pliz

  • Hamuna nyaya nehanda

  • Nehanda ipepa remuvengi wezimbabwe

  • That girl will smile all the way to the bank, mzansi is not Zimbabwe she will definitely pay that girl, if it was lawlessness Zimbabwe the girl will be in prison as we speak

  • you can not hide forever since 2009 she had been accused of four allegations this one she will escape but when the time comes she will really escape

  • Mabhunu matowana mukana we regime change, manje hamulume

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