Grace Mugabe could face jail time - criminal attorney

On Thursday the police ministry announced it could take any action on the case against Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe at the moment. This, because the international relations ministry needs to pronounce on whether she has diplomatic immunity.

On Wednesday, The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said the Zimbabwean government was invoking diplomatic immunity for her although there could be other questions concerning the fact that Grace Mugabe was born in Benoni, South Africa.

Mugabe is accused of assault with grievous bodily harm after hitting a twenty year old woman who was spending time with her sons in their Sandton hotel room.

Prof Adam Habib, Wits University Vice Chancellor says the Mugabe case differs to that of the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir.

Wits vice chancellor Adam Habib says there are fundamental differences.

Firstly, the problem in the al-Bashir case, it was not a South African affair. He had come in for an African Union event and in that, the South African government had been in violation of its legal agreement when they allowed him to get away.

Prof Adam Habib, Political analyst and vice chancellor, Wits University

Habib says Mugabe was here on private business and so her visit directly affects the SA government. He adds that if Mugabe is allowed to use her diplomatic immunity, then the SA government may prohibit her from setting foot in the country.

SA has two options, either you say to Grace that she has to go through the legal process and bear the consequences.

Prof Adam Habib, Political analyst and Vice Chancellor, Wits University

The second is that we invoke and say since you committed a crime and covered it up with the use of your diplomatic immunity, you may not be allowed back on SA territory explains Habib.

Cliff Alexander, criminal attorney says Mugabe could face jail time. He goes on to say that, Mugabe could settle or negotiate for a sentence agreement, such as a fine or community service.

On the flip side of the coin, there is something called mediation, where the state sits down the complainant and accused.

Cliff Alexander, criminal attorney

Alexander believes the best cause of action would be to approach the state and complainant for a mediation to resolve the matter within the parameters of the law and Criminal Procedure Act.

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