Zimbabwe's former first lady Grace Mugabe peers from the side of the ballot box after casting her ballot in the country's general elections in Harare. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Johannesburg - The Commission for Gender Equality has welcomed a high court ruling that the South African government's decision to grant former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity was unconstitutional.

The commission was admitted as a friend of the court in an application brought by  Afriforum and the Democratic Alliance (DA) challenging government granting Mugabe immunity last year. 

"Through its representations, the Gender Commission submitted that providing Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity after assaulting Ms Gabriella Engels, directly violated the constitutional directive to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of women, including violating South Africa’s host of international obligations to safeguard women. The judgment signifies that gender-based violence requires serious and concerted response by the State," the commission said in a statement.

Mugabe allegedly assaulted model Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in August last year. She claimed that she acted in self-defence.

She was in the country during the African Union summit when the incident happened and was allowed to leave the country without being prosecuted.

African News Agency (ANA)