Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, has returned to Zimbabwe according to an Aljazeera report… following her alleged assault of a 20-year-old South African woman at a hotel in Sandton on Sunday.
There was conflicting information on Tuesday afternoon with some media in South Africa reporting that Mugabe had handed herself in and was in court… at the very same time that others said she had fled back to Zimbabwe. Aljazeera say she had apparently originally agreed to hand herself in, but failed to turn up.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed Tuesday that a 20-year-old South African woman had registered a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on Monday after 16h00.
The police did not name the first lady, but described her as a “prominent woman” and said “the suspect in this matter cannot be named because she has not as yet appeared in court”.
According to local reports, it is claimed by 20-year-old – model Gabriella Engels – that Grace Mugabe assaulted her with an extension cord (wielding the plug) whilst she was visiting the President Robert Mugabe’s sons, Robert and Chatunga, at Capital 20 West Hotel.
Engels had apparently only met them the previous day (Saturday) through a mutual friend… but their mother was convinced she was living with her sons.
Engels gave a detailed account to News24, saying: “When Grace entered [the room] I had no idea who she was. She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it…
“She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised… I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.
“Her 10 bodyguards just stood there watching, no one did anything, no one tried to help me.”
When she initially went to the Sandton police station, she was allegedly bleeding so badly that a police officer advised her to go to the hospital first.
Today SAPS said: “The investigation into this case has already reached an advanced stage…We request that the SAPS be allowed to conduct a thorough investigation and to follow due process.”
Aljazeera report that an unnamed senior government official told Reuters: “Yes, she is back in the country. We don’t know where this issue of assault charges is coming from.”
Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu-PF issued a statement (see below) claiming it was the model who attacked their first lady: “We can confirm that there was a minor altercation between agent provocateurs and comrade Grace Mugabe. No need to panic, she (Mugabe) is fine and safe.”
As Grace Mugabe was reportedly in South Africa on personal and not official business reasons (having an injured foot examined by medical specialists in Gauteng), she would not be granted diplomatic immunity.
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