Embassy given seven days
Mugabe and Engels case complexities
THE North Gauteng High Court has ordered that the Zimbabwean embassy must file an affidavit in seven days stating whether or not it is representing Grace Mugabe, who is accused of assaulting a 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 embassy.
Then the matter will be argued again in the opposed motion court.
In a surprising turn of events, the Zimbabwean embassy decided to withdraw from the matter citing that their 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 had received instructions from the Zimbabwean consul general and read out a message from his phone.
“I have read the memorandum by Adv 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 ( participation) embarrassing and its future involvement in this matter undesirable,” Chitando read.
AfriForum legal representative Willie Spies said they were caught off guard on September 19 when the Zimbabwean embassy came to court to oppose an application that normally is not an opposed application.
Spies said it was clear the embassy was using delaying tactics and their purpose was to frustrate the court’s process and ensure that justice was delayed.
“Fortunately, they now have withdrawn, which makes the whole process further easier.”
Spies said the order was not yet granted and no-one had got what they wanted. Instead the matter was postponed for hearing on the opposed motion roll.
Zimbabwe’s first lady allegedly assaulted Engels, 20, in August and was later granted diplomatic immunity by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The model, who is acquainted with Mugabe’s sons, said their mother hit her on the forehead with an electric extension cord which had a plug at the end.
Engels laid criminal charges against Mugabe, but she secured immunity from prosecution.
Mugabe, 52, denies the allegations that she attacked Engels. Instead, Mugabe claims Engels tried to attack her with a knife. Engels’s mother, Debbie, dismissed the claim. – ANA