Mugabe's wife seeks assault case immunity
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Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe is requesting diplomatic immunity after being accused of assaulting a 20-year-old model, South African police say.
The wife of leader Robert Mugabe failed to appear at a police station on Tuesday to answer charges she hit Gabriella Engels with an extension cord, authorities claimed.
Ms Engels was visiting a hotel room in an upmarket suburb of Johannesburg where the first lady’s sons were staying, when she alleges the assault happened.
She later posted a picture on Twitter showing a gash in her forehead. Her mother told Reuters that she had received 14 stitches after the incident.
Police confirmed that Zimbabwe had requested diplomatic immunity but stressed they would pursue the case through the legal system, prompting speculation that it could provoke a diplomatic rift.
After suggestions Mrs Mugabe had fled South Africa police also confirmed on Wednesday she was still in the country.
Authorities said Mrs Mugabe did not attend appointments rescheduled multiple times on the same day to receive a warning and present her side of the story.
“Our position was that she must go to court. The whole day yesterday we were waiting for her,” acting National Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba said.
Mrs Mugabe was scheduled to attend the South African Development Community summit in Pretoria, an appointment that could boost her claim to diplomatic immunity after the visit to her sons was described as private.
Mrs Mugabe, who is 41 years younger than her husband, often speaks at rallies and heads the women’s league of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.
She is considered by some to be a potential contender to take over from Mr Mugabe.