The Government Gazette released a statement on Saturday saying that international relations minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane had formally granted diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe after the Zimbabwean First Lady was accused of assaulting twenty-year-old Gabriella Engels with an electric cord plug.
The decision has led to strong criticism. Legal experts argue it is not legally possible to grant Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity retroactively after she had entered the country.
Steven Gruzd, head of governance at the SA Institute of International Relations, says he is not at all surprised that Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity.
This is incredibly embarrassing for both countries.— Steven Gruzd, head of governance at the SA Institute of International Relations
For the wife of a president to be accused of a violent attack on a young person, really put both countries in an extremely awkward position says Gruzd.
I don't think President Mugabe is one that you want to get on the wrong side of.— Steven Gruzd, head of governance at the SA Institute of International Relations
Gruzd adds that his interpretation of events is that this case won't necessarily go away because of public pressure but warns that it may be difficult to extradite someone rather than instituting procedures when they are on bail or in custody.
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