PRETORIA, May 10 – The High Court in Pretoria on Friday reserved judgement in the Democratic Alliance’s application to have diplomatic immunity granted to Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe set aside.
“Thank you, everybody, for your time, judgement will be reserved. You will get a written judgement in due course. When? I don’t know,” said Judge Bashier Vally after the second day of arguments between the DA, joined by AfriForum, and on the other side the minister of international relations and cooperation.
“You will get it hopefully soon … I don’t know. I’m not committing myself to any specific time but you will get a written judgement.
The judge also extended gratitude to different parties who had joined the case as “amicus curiae” to assist the court.
On Thursday, Advocate Hilton Epstein, SC representing the department of international relations and cooperation argued that the South African government did not grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe, but only recognised it after the 2017 assault charge.
Epstein argued that Pretoria had not conferred the diplomatic standing, but that the department of international relations and cooperation had only upheld the fact of existing immunity for then Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s spouse.
“I submit the following — it is clear this was happening over a short period of time. The department of foreign affairs [international relations] department was dealing with this urgently, the conference [Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit] was taking place, heads of state were here and the minister was faced with the complaint and sought advice,” said Epstein.
“She sought for advice from the legal advisors. She got advice from the legal advisors. Ultimately there is one factor here, it’s not a discretion, it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact which is whether spousal immunity exists or does not exist.”
He said the then international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane did the right thing by “recognising” Mrs Mugabe’s diplomatic immunity.
Grace Mugabe was embroiled in a scandal when it was alleged that she physically assaulted a young Johannesburg model Gabriella Engels.
Engels, who opened assault charges against Grace Mugabe in 2017, earlier told African News Agency that she hoped Zimbabwe’s former first lady would be brought back to South Africa to face the charges.
– African News Agency (ANA)