By Anna Chibamu
HARARE lawyer Lovemore Madhuku says former first lady Grace Mugabe was unlikely to receive a fair trial if she landed in the hands of South African authorities who have issued her warrant of arrest for assault and grievous bodily harm charges.
Former President Robert Mugabe’s embattled 53-year-old wife is in the eye of the storm for allegedly using an electrical cord to attack a South African model, Gabriella Engels (21) who was friends with her two sons.
Engels suffered cuts to her forehead and the back of her head as a result of the alleged assault.
The attack, which happened August last year at an upmarket hotel in Johannesburg’s business district of Sandton, has ignited a media frenzy for her arrest.
South African courts this week issued a warrant of arrest for her to come and stand trial in Johannesburg.
Since the incident, pro-white organisation, AfriForum has led the push for her prosecution and has done enough to draw international spotlight over the matter.
However, Madhuku says the amount of fervent publicity the matter has attracted in South Africa and abroad would likely work against Grace if she finally appeared before a South African court to answer to the charges.
“It ceases to be a normal trial. Because of that, the (Zimbabwean) government will likely look into issues such as hiring legal representation in SA.
“Certain legal guarantees should be made by the two governments before anything is done.
“We all make mistakes but, Grace and husband (Robert Mugabe) must be allowed to get out of public life.
“The crime was allegedly committed when she was a First Lady and no ordinary person should have behaved in the manner she did.”
Madhuku said the Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, would not, under any circumstances, easily hand over Grace nor any other citizen wanted by South African authorities or any country for that matter.
“Definitely not; not just because she is Grace. Any country has an obligation to protect its citizens even if they commit crimes in other countries. Under international law, countries are allowed to refuse with their citizens,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s deputy information minister Energy Mutodi has ruled out chances of Zimbabwean authorities handing over Grace to their neighbours.
“We will not smile at something like that, for her to be harassed, embarrassed or ill-treated,” he said.
“This incident happened when she was in office and she was granted diplomatic immunity. They can’t now come back now and say they want to prosecute her. We are not going to support any extradition.”