Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

The Zimbabwean embassy has withdrawn an application to intervene in the matter between South African model Gabriella Engels and Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe.

Advocate Simba Chitando‚ representing the Zimbabwean embassy‚ announced this on Friday in the High Court in Pretoria, after Acting Judge Harshilabhen Koovertjie delivered judgment.

The Zimbabwean consul-general alleged in his instructions to Chitando‚ which Chitando read out‚ that "various threats had been made against him [Chitando] while representing the Zimbabwean embassy".

"The conduct of various individuals in this matter has made the Zimbabwean embassy’s future involvement in this matter undesirable. The Zimbabwean embassy‚ regardless of the outcome of these proceedings‚ shall no longer participate in these hearings."

AfriForum’s lawyer, Willie Spies‚ representing Engels‚ said those allegations were "absolute nonsense".

"I think it is just an effort to taint the process to put them in a position to attack the process later."

Spies said if the allegations were true‚ they needed to be investigated and reported to the police.

In her judgment, Koovertjie referred the matter to the opposed motion court.

She ordered the Zimbabwean embassy to file an affidavit within seven days to confirm if they represented Mugabe, or what the basis for their intervention was. AfriForum then has seven days to file an answering affidavit.

Spies was surprised by the Zimbabwean embassy’s withdrawing its application.

"To me it actually shows that they were just showing delaying tactics. The mere purpose of the involvement of the embassy from the outset was to frustrate the process‚ to delay the process and to ensure that justice is delayed."

AfriForum wanted to add Mugabe as a respondent to the case, as the first step in reviewing the decision by the South African government to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe.

Engels has accused Mugabe of assaulting her and two friends at the Capital West 20 Hotel in Sandton‚ on August 13.

In her founding affidavit‚ Engels details how she and her friends visited "acquaintances"‚ when Mugabe burst in with her bodyguards. Engels and her friends were visiting Mugabe’s sons‚ Chatunga and Robert jnr.

Engels alleges Mugabe hit her on the forehead with an electric cord with a plug attached. She also had bruising on her thighs.

In a statement, Mugabe denied assaulting Engels‚ saying an "intoxicated and unhinged" Engels had attacked her with a knife.

Mugabe said she had intervened on behalf of her sons, who were "in trouble with a drunken young woman".

Engels and her mother Debbie were not in court on Friday.

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