Former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe. The court found that the decision to grant her diplomatic immunity following assault allegations had been unconstitutional. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Johannesburg - Afriforum says the ball is now in the police and National Prosecuting Authority's court following Monday's judgment in the South Gauteng High Court which set aside the decision to grant Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

"We are elated with this judgment. It means that there will be justice for Miss Gabriella Engels who is the victim in this case. From the start we said that diplomatic immunity that was granted to Mrs Mugabe was unlawful," Afriforum CEO Kallie Kriel said shortly after the order was made.

Judge Bashier Vally read out a very short order, saying that the decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe had been unconstitutional. The DA took the matter to court after Mugabe was granted immunity which meant she would not stand trial for the alleged assault of Engels. Kriel said Mugabe simply got away due to political reasons.

"Now that it has been set aside, we can make sure that there is equality before the law. The police will now have to further investigate this and the NPA can then prosecute. We also said to Miss Engels that we will assist her even if the NPA decides not to prosecute, we will have the ability to go the route of private prosecution with Advocate Gerrie Nel," Kriel said.

The DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said they took the matter to court because there was a "very important principle at stake".

"That is 'nobody is above the law in South Africa and that if you are a foreign dignitary coming to South Africa, you cannot hide behind diplomatic immunity'. It is a victory for people who are being abused," Selfe said.

The case stems from an incident at a Sandton hotel where Grace Mugabe allegedly assaulted South African model Gabriella Engels after finding her in the company of her sons Robert Jr and Chatunga Bellarmine. The young men were also reportedly beaten by their mother who insisted that she had hit Engels in self-defence.

This was not the first time Mugabe had been granted diplomatic immunity after an alleged assault abroad. The Chinese government gave her diplomatic immunity after she was alleged to have assaulted a journalist in Hong Kong in 2009.

The Star