Em­bassy given seven days

Mu­gabe and Engels case com­plex­i­ties

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BRENDA MASILELA

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

Grace Mu­gabe

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