31 October 2019 - NW1097
Bergman, Mr D to ask the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
With reference to the reply of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to question 559 on 5 September 2019, what was the reason that the National Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute?
The Honourable Member should note that the suspect is an Ambassador, and as such has diplomatic immunity preventing prosecution.
Other diplomatic remedies (e.g. requesting an official apology from the home state, requesting waiver of immunity, recall of the suspect being an Ambassador, declaring the accused a persona non grata, etc.) were considered but in light of the available evidence and nature of the charges, none were deemed appropriate. It was decided not to pursue such remedies and consequently the diplomatic immunity is preventing prosecution.
This decision was informed after, amongst others:
(i) Discussions with the consular section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) regarding the type of case warranting any of the above remedies which will enjoy the support of DIRCO;
(ii) The nature of the conduct complained about (i.e. inappropriate massaging of the Ambassador by the complainant who was a domestic worker, over a number of years starting in 2013, initially without complaints or reports to others before 2016);
(iii) The fact that the complaint was laid with the police only in 2019 following alleged intervention or assistance of others involved in a labour dispute;
(iv) The fact that the complainant is a single witness;
(v) The absence of substantial corroboratory evidence confirming the complainant’s allegations; and
(vi) The implications that may follow on a diplomatic level (including the reputation of the Republic of South Africa in the international arena vis-à-vis the handling of foreign diplomats and their legal rights).
Therefore, the decision not to prosecute was taken after reaching a conclusion that the evidence available was insufficient to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.