The declaration by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week that former first lady Grace Mugabe is no longer immune to prosecution appears to have left Mugabe’s garrulous wife vulnerable to arrest as vultures circle above her, bracing for a kill.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Grace made a lot of enemies during her time as first lady and Mnangagwa’s pronouncement has opened floodgates of legal trouble for the once most feared woman in Zimbabwe.
In an interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Mnangagwa said Grace enjoyed no immunity and could be arrested and taken to court on any charges.
South African model Gabriella Engels, who was walloped with an electric cord by Grace and was left nursing a deep cut on the head and other injuries, has rekindled her fight for justice and is planning to have Mugabe’s wife dragged to South Africa to face the music.
“If I had the opportunity to meet the new Zimbabwean president, I would ask him to do the right thing and handover Grace for prosecution,” Engels told The Standard yesterday.
Engels’ lawyers were working hard to bring Grace to justice in South Africa so that she can answer to the case of assault.
“We are aware that she is no longer a person of power, that her husband was ousted from office and that the government of Zimbabwe said she does not enjoy any immunity anymore,” Engels’ mother said.
“In light of the latest developments, our lawyers are working on that case to secure justice for my child.”
Engels said her family was grateful and happy that Zimbabweans ousted the Mugabes because they were now abusing power to put fear into her family.
“Most definitely, I am happy, we are free and we will continue to fight until we get justice,” she said.
Engels’ lawyers from AfriForum led by former South African prosecutor Gerhard Nel were not available for comment.
Mnangagwa has already withdrawn close security officials who were assigned to Grace, although Mugabe remains protected by the state.
Lawyer Obert Gutu said in terms of the tenets of Public International Law, Grace should be arrested as soon as she enters South Africa.
“She lost all the immunity that she purported to have after her husband left office, never mind the circumstances,” he said.
“Even though the immunity granted to her in the first place was dubious because she did not qualify, now the veil has been pulled and she is exposed. South Africa can arrest her the moment she enters that country.”
Back home, villagers from Manzou Farm who had their property razed down and crops destroyed at Grace’s instigation are also plotting legal action against the former first lady.
The villagers held meetings last week to discuss their case and are in the process of engaging their lawyers with a view to sue Grace.
Aspinas Mafuka, one of the affected villagers, said in an interview yesterday that the villagers had met to consider the way forward following the ouster of the Mugabes.
“We are considering action against Grace. She no longer has state power behind her and is now just an ordinary person. The families who suffered at her hands strongly feel she committed crimes against humanity and are hurt by the loss of property and we are now considering court action,” he said.
Police presence at the boomgate to the farm continues to worry the villagers who said they had hoped that the new administration would have withdrawn them by now.
“Currently, everything is quiet, but we are now looking at how to ensure that police guarding the area are withdrawn. We appeal to the president to intervene and stop this suffering at the hands of one person,” Mafuka said.-amh