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Gabriella Engels and AfriForum have filed court papers challenging the government’s decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe.

In the court papers‚ Engels argues that International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s decision to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity is invalid.

Mugabe was accused by 20-year-old Engels of assaulting her and two friends at a luxury Sandton hotel last week.

The first lady, who was at the centre of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries, flew out of SA under the cover of darkness this past weekend after Nkoana-Mashabane controversially granted her diplomatic immunity.

Engels, with the assistance of AfriForum, intends to challenge this decision.

I am the complainant in these proceedings and intend persisting in these criminal proceedings whether by means of a state or private prosecution

In the notice filed to the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday‚ they want the court to review and set aside the minister’s decision to grant Mugabe immunity.

They also want the court to declare that the decision to grant Mugabe immunity does not mean she will not be prosecuted.

In the court papers Engels details how she and a friend visited "acquaintances" at the Capital West 20 Hotel in Sandton‚ when Grace "burst into the hotel room and assaulted me in the presence of her (Mugabe) bodyguards".

"She used an electric cord with a plug at the end of it and I was … hit over the forehead‚ causing a gash which has serious repercussions for my appearance and my professional career as a model‚" Engels said in the affidavit.

"I have laid a criminal charge of assault with the South African Police Service at Sandton Police Station‚" she said.

"I am the complainant in these proceedings and intend persisting in these criminal proceedings whether by means of a state or private prosecution."

She argues that the decision to grant immunity to Mugabe "lacks legality and … should be declared invalid", and that the minister "misconstrued her powers" in this process.








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