Published: Mon, August 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Grace Mugabe returns to Zimbabwe despite assault claim

Grace Mugabe returns to Zimbabwe despite assault claim

SOUTH African authorities Sunday admitted they allowed President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace to escape assault charges in efforts to save Pretoria's diplomatic relations with Harare and to avoid the matter casting a cloud over the SADC Summit which they were hosting.

South Africa's granting of diplomatic immunity to the Zimbabwean First Lady meant that Engels may have to pursue other means to get Grace prosecuted.

Zimbabwe's first lady is expected to make her first public appearance today since being accused of assaulting a young model at a luxury hotel in South Africa.

The model's mother, Debbie Engels, told Reuters her daughter suffered a gash on her forehead that required eight stitches and another on the back of her head that needed six.

Zimbabwe's outspoken first lady has always been criticized for a fiery temper and lavish shopping expeditions, but her rising political profile has some asking whether she is maneuvering to succeed her husband.

Caty van der Merwe from AfriForum's Trauma Unit said Engels was not directly threatened if she did not accept the offer.

Some demonstrators protested Saturday in Pretoria against Zimbabwe's president and his wife, saying she should be prosecuted. She has alleged that Mrs Mugabe beat her with an extension cable at the hotel where the model was staying with Mrs Mugabe's two sons.

Zimbabwean state media reported on Sunday reported that she had left the country with her husband on an Air Zimbabwe flight on Sunday morning.

Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe might face the wrath of AfriForum's private prosecution unit if justice did not prevail from a police investigation into an assault allegations against her.

She wants to restore a constitutional provision stating one of the party's vice presidents should be a woman and has publicly challenged her 93-year-old husband to name a successor.

The 52-year-old, who has not yet been charged, has asked for diplomatic immunity in the case.

Legal experts also say that Grace has gone to South Africa for treatment on her foot and that prosecutors could decide not to follow the case if they conclude that the victim's injuries are minor.

"What is likely to happen is that she will be allowed to go back home, and then we announce that we've granted diplomatic immunity and wait for somebody to challenge us".

Nel said: "We've agreed with Gabriella not to disclose any details about who she is‚ what she is doing at the moment‚ because she will be a witness".

Anticipating her arrival, a group of protesters had gathered outside, some waving signs reading "Grace is a disgrace".

"However, South Africa was between a rock and a hard place as the First Lady, by virtue of her status becomes a diplomat and as such entitled to diplomatic immunity".

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