Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
31 Aug 2017
5:15 am

Grace Mugabe should still face SA courts, says women’s minister

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The minister says Zimbabwe's first lady might have found diplomatic immunity but 'it does not say she’s not going to have to account for her actions.'

28 March 2005. Zimbabwe. Harare. President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace at a rally, North East of Mutoko near to Harare.

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe must go to court when she returns to South Africa, says Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu.

She said yesterday that just because the assault accused was granted diplomatic immunity, this did not preclude her from facing consequences for her alleged actions.

Shabangu was responding to questions about the public statements made by officials and political leaders in the aftermath of the assault cases of former deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana and Mugabe, which were opened by police within a week of each other this month.

“I am satisfied and happy that the police, in these two cases, are doing their work to make sure that even if Grace Mugabe comes back tomorrow, she appears in front of the court,” said Shabangu.

She said the role of her portfolio was not just to speak out against injustices against women but to oversee the implementation of policies that guard them.

“I think, as South Africans, we need to understand we must not think that we operate within a space of talking, because that is not enough … we need to take action.

“And decisive action around Manana and Grace Mugabe. She might have found diplomatic immunity but it does not say she’s not going to have to account for her actions.”

Zimbabwean opposition parties recently slammed the decision not to act against Grace Mugabe.

She was granted diplomatic immunity and allowed to leave the country after allegedly beating a woman in a Sandton hotel room with an extension cord.

Zimbabwe’s National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) vowed on Tuesday it would not back down in its bid to express displeasure at the way Pretoria officials handled the affair.

Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said the investigation into the alleged assault was continuing and the docket would be handed to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision.

Last week, minority rights group AfriForum said it was preparing papers to challenge government’s decision to grant Grace Mugabe immunity.

Shabangu was speaking after addressing the launch of a report on a study on violence against women in South Africa by Oxfam and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. –