Gabrielle Engels and her mother Debbie. (Picture: Zelda Venter/Pretoria News)

Gabrielle Engels, the young South African model who claimed she was assaulted by Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe, together with SA lobby group Afriforum on Tuesday turned to the high court in Pretoria for authorisation to add Mugabe as a party to pending legal proceedings.

Engels and Afriforum lodged proceedings to review and set aside the fact that Mugabe had received diplomatic immunity following the incident when the 20-year-old model was allegedly assaulted in a hotel room by Mugabe.

The review proceedings will probably only be heard by the court sometime next year, but as the first step the two applicants have to officially receive permission from the court to add Mugabe as a party to that proceedings. This is because Mugabe resides outside the borders of South Africa.

It also has, as matter of legal procedure, get the green light from a judge to serve papers regarding the review proceedings on the office of the president in Zimbabwe.

This will in turn entitle Mugabe to oppose the review application and enable her to file opposing papers. 

Engels, in an affidavit before court, explained how she was allegedly assaulted by Mugabe on August 13 this year, while she was visiting “acquaintances” at the Capital 20 West Hotel in Sandton.

She said Mugabe had used an electric cord with a plug at the end of it to hit her on the forehead, which left a gash. She had laid criminal charges of assault against Mugabe, but the first lady received diplomatic immunity from the South African government.

AfriForum lawyer Willie Spies said the first hurdle to overcome was to set aside the diplomatic immunity, which will then enable them to bring Mugabe before a court of law to face the charges.

Gabrielle’s mother Debbie on Monday said Mugabe should face-up to what she had done to her daughter.

She said claims by Mugabe that her daughter had attacked her first and that she was simply defending herself, were not true and merely a ploy to try and defend her actions.

The Zimbabwean Embassy meanwhile indicated it will oppose the application to add Mugabe as a party.

The application meanwhile stood down to later on Tuesday.

-Pretoria News