SA law? That sounds foreign
DID YOU hear there’s a lion on the loose in our province and residents have been warned to remain indoors until it is found?
I’m not afraid of those over-sized pussy cats. I’m more petrified of violent first ladies who go around beating up women in hotel rooms with traditional weapons in the shape of an electric cable.
Recent reports about how Zimbabwe’s First Lady (she ain’t no lady in my book) Grace Mugabe went on the rampage at a luxury Johannesburg hotel, seriously assaulting a young local model and her friends as well as hotel staff, have caused public outrage and a prickly diplomatic wrangle.
What gives this woman, a foreigner to boot, the right to come here and beat the daylights out of one of our citizens?
And then, as if to add insult to injury, she is granted diplomatic immunity by our government and quietly slips out of the country without being prosecuted.
Okay, I’ve heard the story of how our Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, had to agonise over the decision and consider the country’s relations with its regional neighbours, especially Zimbabwe.
But what I would like to know is: what will our government do when Lady Grace decides to make another visit here – which she surely will, to perhaps invest in another multimillion-rand mansion or shop at Sandton’s swanky stores.
Do we, ordinary South Africans, take cover because she happens to be protected property?
South Africa appears to have taken on the role of a safe house or sanctuary for foreign figures seeking shelter from criminal charges or trouble in their country.
We are now familiar with the story of how the government ignored a high court order preventing Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country two years ago, despite him being charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
What about the hospitality accorded to South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, who has been living here since last year, biding his time before he feels safe enough to rejoin hostilities in his country?
How about former Haitian president Bertrand Aristide who, after being cast into exile, was welcomed to South Africa, where he was allowed to live with his family in a government villa and paid a salary for seven years.
Then there are others like the infamous Gupta brothers from India who came to our country not to seek shelter from danger, but to make their own personal fortunes. And the support they enjoyed came right from the very top.
South Africa is known for its generosity, compassion and hospitality. How nice if that could be extended to the Dalai Lama.