Is Grace Mugabe eligible for diplomatic immunity?

Zimbabwe's First Lady Accused of Assault

Grace, last weekend, allegedly beat up and injured a young South African woman who was partying with her two boys at an up market hotel in Johannesburg.

Police had put border posts on "red alert" in South Africa to prevent her from fleeing and said she would not benefit from special treatment in the case involving Gabriella Engels.

Mugabe would not ordinarily enjoy immunity, she said.

The source said there would obviously be implications for relations with Zimbabwe.

Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib told Radio 702 on Thursday that if Mugabe was not charged, Pretoria should at least bar her from entering South Africa "for the foreseeable future".

"I will also be writing to both the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, and the Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, to urge them in the strongest terms to issue a warrant of arrest against Ms Mugabe", said DA spokesperson on police Zakhele Mbhele.

The alleged beatdown left Engels with a nasty gash on her forehead that required 14 stitches. "She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it".

However, she said her daughter's legal team - which includes Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor who secured a murder conviction against Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius - would counter such a move. "And the granting of diplomatic immunity would transgress the law", Afriforum chief executive Kallie Kriel said.

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The Daily Maverick news website also quoted a government source on Friday as saying Ms Mugabe would be allowed to leave South Africa on Sunday with her husband, president Robert Mugabe.

Police expected Mrs Mugabe, 52, to turn herself in on Tuesday, but she failed to show up.

"The family is not interested in doing this", Nel added.

Since the International Relations Department confirmed that it had received communication from the Zimbabwean government invoking diplomatic immunity for Grace Mugabe, there has been no further communication from Dirco on a decision.

Harare has made no official comment and requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered.

Ironically, another figure mentioned in the race to succeed Mugabe, his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, trended on social media following his alleged poisoning and subsequent hospitalisation in South Africa dominated social media.

The SADC summit in Pretoria opens at 09:30 am (0730 GMT) on Saturday, with a "first spouses programme" starting at noon.

According to Mbalula, Mugabe was cooperating with police which meant she did not have to be arrested. "We hope police will do their duty, we will also support the victim, but if nothing happens we will prosecute the matter", he said.

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