The Zimbabwean government says there is “no need” to extradite Grace Mugabe, the wife of the country’s former leader, to neighboring South Africa after police there issued a warrant for her arrest.
Energy Mutodi, Zimbabwe’s deputy minister of information, said Thursday that the government objects to the move by South African law enforcement against Mugabe, who is accused of assaulting a woman in Johannesburg last year.
Mutodi says former president Robert Mugabe was the country’s founder and that “harassment of his immediate family members is not in the best interests of Zimbabwe.”
Earlier this year, a South African court ruled that South Africa’s government acted illegally when it granted diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe after the alleged attack at an upscale hotel.
Grace Mugabe allegedly attacked model Gabriella Engels in an upscale hotel on Aug. 13, 2017, whipping her with an extension cord that cut her forehead.
However, Mugabe was allowed to return to Zimbabwe despite calls for her prosecution. She traveled with her husband, who was then president of Zimbabwe and attending a regional summit in Pretoria.
Robert Mugabe was ousted only a few months later after a military takeover, impeachment proceedings led by the ruling party that once backed him and large demonstrations for his removal.
Representatives of Grace Mugabe have said that Engels was the actual aggressor in the altercation between the two.
AfriForum, a South African group that represented Engels, said the court ruling that Grace Mugabe had no right to diplomatic immunity had allowed police to proceed with an investigation.
“We’re now at a point where an arrest is possible,” said Kallie Kriel, the group’s CEO. “We believe that this sends out a strong message that nobody is above the law, not even if your surname is Mugabe.”