Zim em­bassy backs out of Grace as­sault case

Pretoria News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

THE Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, yes­ter­day or­dered the Zim­bab­wean Con­sulate to file an af­fi­davit in seven days stat­ing whether or not it was rep­re­sent­ing Grace Mu­gabe, ac­cused of as­sault­ing a 20-year-old South African model.

Act­ing Judge Harshila Koovertjie made the or­der in a mat­ter in which Gabriella En­gels and AfriFo­rum are ask­ing the court to set aside Mu­gabe’s diplo­matic im­mu­nity from prose­cu­tion.

AfriFo­rum has also been given seven days to re­spond to an af­fi­davit by the Zim­bab­wean Con­sulate.

Then the mat­ter is to be ar­gued again in mo­tion court.

In a sur­pris­ing turn of events, the con­sulate had de­cided to with­draw from the mat­ter, cit­ing its le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive had re­ceived threats. “The Zim­bab­wean em­bassy, re­gard­less of the out­come of the pro­ceed­ings, shall no longer par­tic­i­pate in these hear­ings,” said ad­vo­cate Simba Chi­tando.

He said he had re­ceived in­struc­tions from the Con­sul-Gen­eral of the Zim­bab­wean em­bassy, and he read out a mes­sage he had re­ceived, by cell­phone.

“I have read the me­moran­dum by ad­vo­cate Chi­tando, our coun­sel of record, and I have per­son­ally seen var­i­ous threats made against him while rep­re­sent­ing the Zim­bab­wean Em­bassy. The con­duct of var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als has made the Zim­bab­wean Em­bassy em­bar­rassed and it’s fu­ture in­volve­ment in this mat­ter is un­de­sir­able.”

AfriFo­rum’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wil­lie Spies said it was caught off guard on Septem­ber 19 when the em­bassy came to court to op­pose an ap­pli­ca­tion that is nor­mally not op­posed.

Spies said it was clear the em­bassy was us­ing de­lay­ing tac­tics and its pur­pose was to frus­trate the court’s process and en­sure jus­tice is de­layed. “For­tu­nately, they have with­drawn, which makes the process eas­ier.”

Spies said the or­der has not been granted yet and no one got what they wanted; in­stead the mat­ter was post­poned for hear­ing on op­posed mo­tion roll.

Zim­babwe’s first lady al­legedly as­saulted En­gels in Au­gust and was granted diplo­matic im­mu­nity by South African Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and Co-op­er­a­tion Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane.

The model, who knows Mu­gabe’s sons and was with them at the time, said their mother hit her on the fore­head with an elec­tric cord which had a plug at the end.

En­gles laid crim­i­nal charges against Mu­gabe, who failed to ap­pear and in­stead se­cured im­mun- ity from prose­cu­tion.

Mu­gabe, 52, de­nies the al­le­ga­tions. In­stead, she claims En­gels tried to at­tack her with a knife.

Mean­while, In­de­pen­dent Me­dia jour­nal­ist Siyabonga Mkhwanazi writes that Par­lia­ment ap­pears to have halted plans for Nkoana-Mash- abane to ac­count for the diplo­matic im­mu­nity granted to Mu­gabe, de­spite mount­ing pres­sure from the op­po­si­tion par­ties for the min­is­ter to do so.

Yes­ter­day, chair­man of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions Siphosezwe Masango con­firmed that Nkoana-Masha­bane would ap­pear be­fore it next week, but would not talk about the Mu­gabe mat­ter. Masango said this fol­lowed a let­ter Nkoana-Masha­bane wrote to them that she would not dis­cuss the mat­ter in Par­lia­ment be­cause it was sub ju­dice.

This fol­lowed court ac­tion by the DA to force Mu­gabe to be held ac­count­able for the at­tack on En­gels.

Masango said the min­is­ter was sup­posed to talk about the is­sue of Mu­gabe, but she would now talk to the com­mit­tee about her depart­ment’s an­nual re­port.

“Af­ter (her trip to) Viet­nam she was sup­posed to come, but she sub­se­quently wrote us a let­ter that the DA has taken her to court and the mat­ter is sub ju­dice,” said Masango.

He said Nkoana-Masha­bane will not deal with the mat­ter in Par­lia­ment un­til it has been ad­ju­di­cated by the court.

AfriFo­rum’s lawyer Wil­lie Spies at the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, dur­ing the Grace Mu­gabe case for al­legedly as­sault­ing Gabriella En­gels.

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