UNDER-FIRE South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday professed ignorance over the legal grounds on which Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe was last month granted diplomatic immunity after allegedly assaulting a 20-year-old model she found in the company of her two sons in a Johannesburg hotel.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife was spared arrest for causing grievous bodily harm to Gabriella Engels.
Yesterday, Zuma was taken to task during question time in the Cape Town National Assembly by lawmakers who asked why Grace escaped prosecution.
“Part of the reason why we have the laws in the country is that when somebody commits a crime here, there are law enforcement entities that deal with that and insofar as the matter you are referring to, the police were very active and very involved in dealing with that matter. What I’m not saying.
. . I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know what happened and how the matter at the end came to a point where it came,” said Zuma during a televised session in Parliament yesterday.
“So all I’m saying is the actions were taken, the police were there, they dealt with the matter. Then the issue of diplomatic conditions came about and actions were taken. All I’m saying . . . I can’t answer that detail, not being aware what actually happened.”
After being accused of lying to Parliament, he went on to say: “ Why do you say the truth has run away because I’m telling you the truth, what’s your problem? You know, if for an example you did not want to come to Parliament to politick, if you were interested in it, you would have gone to the police station where the case was put and you would have the facts, but you just want to politick.
You want me to talk, you want me to discuss the matters, details of which I don’t know.”
Before Grace was granted the convenient cover of diplomatic immunity, South Africa’s Police Minister Fikile Mbalula had earlier said police had issued a “red alert” instructing all South African ports of entry to ensure she did not leave the country.
Even after the Zimbabwean government dispatched a diplomatic note verbale invoking diplomatic immunity cover for Grace, Mbalula insisted that justice be served. Grace left South Africa with her husband on a chartered flight.