A South African High Court on Monday overturned a decision by the government to grant Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity after she was accused of whipping Gabriella Engels with an electric cord.
Delivering his judgement on Monday, Judge Bashier Vally stated that the decision by the former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity was inconsistent with the South African Constitution and should therefore be set aside.
“It is declared that the decision of the minister of August 19, 2017, in terms of the diplomatic immunities to recognise Dr Grace Mugabe immunities is inconsistent with the Constitution of South Africa. The decision is reviewed and set aside,” the judgment stated.
The former minster explained in court that Mrs Mugabe automatically qualified for immunity from prosecution by virtue of her status as the wife of a head of state.
She also argued that not awarding Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity might have serious implications for relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Engels filed a court application challenging the government’s decision last August.
Mrs Mugabe returned to Zimbabwe immediately after South Africa granted her diplomatic immunity, allowing her to evade prosecution for assault and causing a row in South Africa where the opposition Democratic Alliance also challenged the ruling.
Mrs Mugabe denied assaulting Engels with an electric cable, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels had attacked her with a knife.
South African advocacy group Afriforum, which represented Engels, dismissed the allegations as lies.
According to Engels, an irate Mrs Mugabe burst into the room where she was waiting with two friends in a Johannesburg luxury hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s sons last August, and started attacking her with an electric cable.
Photographs taken by Engels’ mother soon after the incident showed gashes to the model’s head and bruising on her thighs.
Willie Spies, a lawyer for Afriforum, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should now take action to prosecute Mrs Mugabe and seek her extradition from Zimbabwe to South Africa.
Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Mrs Mugabe.
“The ball is in their court now,” Spies said, adding that Afriforum had argued that Grace Mugabe committed the attack on Engles while she was on a private visit to South Africa and therefore did not qualify for diplomatic immunity.
NPA spokeswoman Phindi Mjnonondwana said the case was still in the hands of the police and had not yet been sent to the NPA for action.
However, NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said South Africa and Zimbabwe had previously cooperated on extraditing suspects from one country to the other.
Following the judgement, International Relations and Cooperation Department under Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said they were still studying the judgment.
The news from the South African court came as former president Mugabe (94), accompanied by his wife and daughter Mrs Bona Chikore, cast his vote at Mhofu Primary School in Highfield township, the first election that does not include his name on the ballot paper since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Source: The Business Insider
The impact of the escalating global trade war is likely to shave 0.1% off South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) baseline forecast in 2019 and 0.2% in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings' June 2018 "Global Economic Outlook" baseline forecast.
Fitch forecast that the escalation in the trade war is likely to reduce the world GDP by 0.4% in 2019 and by 0.3% in 2020.
"An escalation of global trade tensions that results in new tariffs on $2trn in global trade flows would reduce world growth by 0.4% in 2019, to 2.8% from 3.2%," the Fitch Ratings said in a statement on Wednesday.
The US, Canada and Mexico would be the most affected countries. Fitch expects China would be less severely impacted, with GDP growth around 0.3% below the baseline forecast. Fitch points out that China would only be affected directly by US protectionist measures, whereas the US would be imposing tariffs on a large proportion of its imports, while being hit simultaneously by retaliatory measures from four countries or trading blocs.
"The imposition of further tariff measures currently being considered by the US administration and commensurate retaliatory tariffs on US goods by the EU, China, Canada and Mexico would mark a significant escalation from tariff measures imposed to date," according to Fitch.
"The tariffs would initially feed through to higher import prices, raising firms' costs and reducing real wages. Business confidence and equity prices would also be dampened, further weighing on business investment and reducing consumption through a wealth effect."
Export competitiveness in the countries subject to tariffs would decline, resulting in lower export volumes. The negative growth effects would be magnified by trade multipliers and feed through to other trading partners not directly targeted by the tariffs. Import substitution would offset some of the growth shock in the countries imposing import tariffs.
Fitch forecasts that most countries not directly involved in the trade war would see their GDP falling below baseline, though generally at a much lower scale.
Net commodity exporters would be more severely hit, as slower world growth would push oil and hard commodity prices down. On the other hand, for some net commodity importers, the benefits from lower hard commodity prices would more than offset the impact of lower world growth.