Debbie & Gabriella Engels & Kallie Kriel
The mother of a 20-year-old model who was allegedly assaulted by Grace Mugabe rubbished claims that Zimbabwe’s first lady was acting in self-defence when she attacked her daughter in a Johannesburg hotel.
“This is a pathetic attempt to get off the hook. I don’t see how she comes to a point that my daughter wanted to attack her with a knife when she has so many bodyguards surrounding her all the time.”
Debbie Engels was speaking on Tuesday at the high court in Pretoria during an application brought by lobby group AfriForum against the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for granting Mugabe diplomatic immunity.
The application was brought after Mugabe was allowed to leave the country despite calls she be arrested and prosecuted for allegedly assaulting Gabriella Engels at a luxury hotel in Johannesburg.
In papers filed in the high court, AfriForum, on behalf of Engels, claimed Nkoana-Mashabane did not have the power to grant immunity to Zimbabwe’s first lady.
The papers cite the Minister as the first respondent in the case and Grace Mugabe as the second.
AfriForum said the minister had also failed to take into account that the alleged crime committed by Mugabe constituted a serious offence, as set out in the law.
The applicants further asked the court to declare that the decision to grant Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s wife immunity did not mean she would not be prosecuted.
Engels accused Mugabe of assaulting her and two friends at a luxury Sandton hotel after she had walked in on them visiting her two sons.
Mugabe was allowed to fly out of the country under the cover of darkness after Nkoana-Mashabane had granted her immunity from prosecution.
Public outrage followed, with the police being criticised for its failure to arrest her.
Mugabe was meant to have reported to the police to make a statement about the alleged incident the day after Engels had reported the incident, but failed to do so.
The matter is expected to be heard soon.