File photo shows Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses at a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 27, 2017. (Xinhua/Stringer)
CAPE TOWN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The South African government has granted diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe who is charged with assault, it was announced on Sunday.
"I hereby recognize the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Grace Mugabe," South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a notice.
The decision was made "in accordance with the powers vested in me by section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 2001 (Act No 37 of 2001) and acting in the Interest of (the) Republic of South Africa", the minister said.
The immunities and privileges of Mugabe are recognized "in terms of international law", Nkoana-Mashabane added.
However, civil rights group AfriForum said it would approach the courts to contest the diplomatic immunity, saying "it is not a correct decision" which contravenes South Africa's laws, as well as the rights of the victim to see justice.
The group vowed to "carry on with a private prosecution".
Grace, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife, is embroiled in a court case for allegedly beating a model in Johannesburg on August 13.
The model, Gabriella Engels, claims that Grace attacked her with an extension cord at a Johannesburg hotel. Engels reportedly was partying with Grace's two sons at the time of the assault.
Grace reportedly turned herself in to South African police last Tuesday.
Following the assault, the Zimbabwean government sent correspondence to the South African government, requesting diplomatic immunity for the first lady.
Grace, who was in South Africa for medical purposes, reportedly has left South Africa with her husband who attended the just concluded 37th Summit of the Southern African Development Community in Pretoria.