Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe to face court over attacking model with extension cord in South African hotel
Pictures on social media show the girl, Gabriella Engels, with a bleeding head injury
Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe handed herself over to South African police and was due to appear in court on Tuesday after allegedly assaulting a model, South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said.
“She’s not under arrest because she cooperated and handed herself over to the police,” he said. “From the police side, we have had to act in the interests of the victim, we have opened a case.”
During the incident, which occurred on Sunday, Mugabe, 52, allegedly attacked Gabriella Engels, 20, with an extension cord, leaving her with wounds on her forehead and the back of her head.
“If she came here with her diplomatic passport, she’ll have diplomatic immunity,” Mbalula earlier told local media.
Pictures on social media appear to show Engels with a bleeding head injury after the alleged incident in Capital 20 West Hotel in the upmarket district of Sandton.
Mugabe allegedly arrived with bodyguards and accused Engels of living with her sons Robert and Chatunga, both in their 20s, who are based in the city.
“We were chilling in a hotel room, and (the sons) were in the room next door. She came in and started hitting us,” Engels was quoted as saying by the TimesLIVE website. “The front of my forehead is busted open. I’m a model and I make my money based on my looks.”
Mugabe, who is 41 years younger than her husband Robert, has two sons and one daughter with the Zimbabwean president.
Foreign affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela said Mugabe’s trip was “a private visit so government cannot get involved if an alleged crime is committed”.
Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, a provincial minister in Gauteng province, told Jacaranda FM the case should be pursued through the courts.
“We hope that it will send a strong message to all leaders who abuse their power and assault innocent people in our country,” she said.
Grace Mugabe regularly speaks at rallies in Zimbabwe and is seen as one potential successor to take over from her increasingly frail husband.
The Zimbabwe government made no immediate comment.