Grace Mugabe case: Zimbabwean Embassy withdraws from court proceedings

The legal process that AfriForum and Miss Gabriella Engels brought against Mrs Grace Mugabe and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation took an interesting turn today after the Zimbabwean Embassy unexpectedly withdrew from the court proceedings after having applied earlier to intervene as an interested party.

The withdrawal of the Zimbabwean Embassy came as a huge surprise, especially in light of the ruling by Judge Harshila Kooverjile today. In her ruling, Judge Kooverjile granted the Zimbabwean Embassy seven days to file additional affidavits to confirm if they represented Mrs Mugabe. If the embassy does not represent her, they will have to provide reasons for being an interested party in the litigation. This new turn of events means that the review application of AfriForum and Miss Engels is once again on track and that the parties will obtain an order at the first possible opportunity to cite Mrs Mugabe in further court proceedings and to have the review application heard as soon as possible.

It is expected that Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba will make a special allocation of a preferential court date in the Opposed Motion Court next week, where Miss Engels and AfriForum’s application will probably be heard together with another application brought by the DA on the same matter.

Various organisations have already indicated that they want to become parties to the court case as amici curiae, including Freedom Under Law, Lawyers for Human Rights and a women’s rights organisation. It is expected that the special court date will be allocated by the Deputy Judge President hopefully before the end of the year or otherwise early next year.

Willie Spies, AfriForum’s legal representative, welcomed the developments today and said that the ruling by Judge Kooverjile had been a wise ruling given under difficult circumstances.

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