South Africa grants immunity to Grace Mugabe despite assault claim

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe returned home from South Africa early on Sunday (20 August), state media reported, pursued by demands she face prosecution over an alleged assault of a 20-year-old model in an upmarket Johannesburg hotel room. Pascale Davies reports.

JOHANEESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA / PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA / VARIOUS, ZIMBABWE (REUTERS / SABC / DEBBIE ENGELS) – Zimabwe’s first Lady Grace Mugabe has returned home from South Africa with her husband President Robert Mugabe, according to state media.

pursued by demands she face prosecution over the alleged assault of a 20 year old model last week.

The 52 year old landing in Harare on Sunday (20 August) even though South African police had previously placed border posts on “red alert” to prevent her from leaving.

But South Africa’s international relations minister said she had been granted diplomatic immunity.

A government source had previously told Reuters there was “no way” Mugabe would be arrested because of the potential diplomatic fallout with Zimbabwe.

The opposition Democratic Alliance said it would call for a parliamentary inquiry into the affair, while advocacy group Afriforum said it would challenge the government’s decision.

Gabriella Engels, the woman behind the assault allegation, is being given legal assistance by the group, led by Gerrie Nel.

You may remember him as the prosecutor who secured a murder conviction against Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius.

Appearing at a press conference last week, Engels accused Mrs Mugabe of whipping her with an electric extension cable as she waited with two friends in a luxury hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s adult sons.