Despite promising to be at court to answer charges of assault, Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe, quietly slipped out of the country yesterday and is currently in Zimbabwe, according to a well-placed South African source.
The South African Police Service refused to comment on whether a warrant for her arrest had been issued, or would be issued in future. Mugabe’s husband, President Robert Mugabe, is one of those invited to a SADC meeting in Johannesburg today.
Grace failed to hand herself over at the Sandton police station yesterday on a charge of assault filed against her this week, despite having made a commitment to do so to South African police and government officials.
Among those taken in were Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, who both went public with the information that she would hand herself over.
Mugabe, who was in the country last weekend seeking treatment for an ankle injury, allegedly beat up a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels, whom she found in a hotel room occupied by her sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga, on Sunday night.
Engels claimed she was beaten with an electrical extension cord and sustained injuries to her face and head. “She split my head open in 3 places. (sic) With an extension cord and used the plug to hit me,” Engels told her Twitter followers.
A source yesterday told The Citizen Grace had already left the country as journalists camped outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court where Mbalula announced she was expected to be appearing.
Naidoo said Mugabe failed to honour an agreement to hand herself over, after negotiations with her lawyers for the handover yesterday afternoon.
“Investigations are still ongoing and, as I did mention earlier on, we had started to negotiate the handover issue with the suspect and she was supposed to arrive at 10am. This did not materialise.
“In the meantime, we expect to finalise the investigation in the very near future and follow due processes from then on,” Naidoo said.
Department of foreign affairs and cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said his department was not involved in the fracas and referred questions about her whereabouts to the police.
Legal expert Oscar Thovhakale said that, as a First Lady, Grace did not qualify for diplomatic immunity and, in terms of the law, she should have been in police custody.
“If there is a case against anyone, that person must hand themselves over or the police must arrest her.”
Members of the Zimbabwean Communist Party were outside the court where they told journalists that Grace had a history of violence and should be brought to book.
“In Zimbabwe we call her Dr Stop It,” said the party’s secretary-general Ngqabutho Mabhena.
“She is a violent person. You know what she did in Dubai when she assaulted those journalists; she has a record of assaulting individuals. We think she has a problem with managing her anger. We are not surprised at all,” said Mabhena. – email@example.com