Model Gabriella Engels, 20, says ‘I thought I was going to die’ as she spoke about the terror and blood streaming down her face after ‘raging Robert Mugabe’s wife savagely beat her with an electric cord’
South Africa borders on ‘red alert’ for Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe
Mugabe, 52, is accused of hitting a 20-year-old South African model Gabriella Engels over the head with an extension cord in a hotel room near Johannesburg
Mrs Mugabe, failed to turn herself in on Tuesday, as authorities expected
The first lady’s whereabouts are not known but she is believed to still be in South Africa
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is now also in the country ahead of a southern African heads of state meeting due to start on Friday
Engels said she was attacked by Grace Mugabe who believed she knew the whereabouts of her son, Bellarmine
“We kept telling her ‘we do not know where he is… we haven’t seen him for the night’… She cornered me… and started beating the hell out of me”
Engels said Grace Mugabe ” hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck.
“She hit us with so much hate.”
Engels has filed an assault charge, she wants Grace Mugabe to “go to jail”
Zimbabwe’s government has sought diplomatic immunity for President Grace Mugabe’s wife in the assault case against her – South Africa police
Engels needed 14 stitches after the savage beat down
South African police have issued a “red alert” at the country’s borders for Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe, the police minister has said.
She is accused of hitting a 20-year-old woman over the head with an extension cord in a hotel room near Johannesburg.
Police expected Mrs Mugabe, 52, to turn herself in on Tuesday, but she failed to show up.
The first lady’s whereabouts are not known but she is believed to still be in South Africa.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is now also in the country ahead of a southern African heads of state meeting due to start on Friday.
Mrs Mugabe has not commented on the allegation.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said: “We, in terms of South African police, [have] already put tabs on the borders in relation to her leaving the country, so there is no question about that.
“So tabs have been put, a red alert has been put, so she is not somebody who has been running away.”
The 52-year-old woman attacked the young model with 10 of her bodyguards present in the room
Model Gabriella Engels: Grace Mugabe “beat the hell out of me”
On Wednesday, South Africa’s police ministry said Zimbabwe’s government had sought diplomatic immunity for Mrs Mugabe.
Meanwhile, South African lawyer Gerrie Nel, who successfully prosecuted Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, is supporting the woman making the allegation, Gabriella Engels.
Mr Nel is now working with the Afriforum group, which mainly lobbies for the rights of Afrikaners in South Africa.
Afriforum said if the police failed to act in the case then it would take up a private prosecution.
It also said that it would fight any move to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity.
Engels’ high powered attorney Gerrie Nel, [photo], is pushing for his client to have her day in court.
Model Gabriella Engels said she barely knew the young men whose acquaintance led to the assault
Engels said she was attacked by Mrs Mugabe who believed she knew the whereabouts of her son, Bellarmine.
“We kept telling her ‘we do not know where he is… we haven’t seen him for the night’… She cornered me… and started beating the hell out of me.
“That’s when she hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck.
“She hit us with so much hate.”
The model has now filed an assault charge and added that she wants Grace Mugabe to “go to jail”.
Commentators said South Africa’s government risks a public backlash if it lets Mrs Mugabe off without due process. A diplomatic sleight could lead to a repeat of the 2015 incident when the South African government failed to execute an international arrest warrant for fugitive Sudanese former President, Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the International Criminal Court.
President Robert Mugabe and Grace Mufaru on their wedding day
President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe – known for their uncompromising nature
The government argued that he qualified for diplomatic immunity, but the country’s judges disagreed. The government was then strongly criticised for undermining the rule of law.
It seems that ministers want to avoid a similar backlash and are therefore insisting that Mrs Mugabe must appear in court.
But by taking such an approach it risks a diplomatic row with Zimbabwe’s government – a staunch ally whom it has resolutely defended over the years, despite international criticism of President Mugabe’s human rights record.
So the two governments, including Mr Mugabe and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, are bound to be in talks to resolve the crisis over the first lady.
One option being mentioned in the South African media is that Grace Mugabe should plead guilty during a short court appearance, and pay a fine.
But it is unclear whether the Zimbabwean first couple, known for their uncompromising nature, will agree to through the judicial processis, especially after Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party said in a tweet on Tuesday went after the accuser’s account of events.
The ZANU post claims that the first lady had been “attacked”.
Engels said as Grace Mugabe was inflicting the injuries: ‘Her security guards and bodyguards just stood and watched that happen, I was pleading with her for mercy, I was crying out for help at the top of my voice’
So what is the genesis of this shocking loss of decorum and brutal assault by Zimbabwe’s first lady on a young woman on her home turf?
Gabriella Engels explained she had been briefly introduced to one of Mugabe’s playboy sons by a mutual friend at the weekend, without knowing who he was.
‘I had been introduced to Chatunga Mugabe, but I wasn’t told his last name so had no idea who he was and barely spoke to the guy., she said.
‘On Sunday night, me and two other friends were with this mutual friend, who is also from Zimbabwe, and had not even seen the Mugabe brothers that evening, let alone been in the same room as them when this woman came in and just started attacking us.
‘I had no idea who she was. She was shouting at us to tell her where her sons were, we just kept repeating that we didn’t know them, that we hadn’t seen them.
‘But she did not listen to that and picked up an electrical cable and just started hitting us with it, including with the plug.
‘One of my friends managed to run away, but me and my other friend were just pinned up against the side of the room, I was on my knees and she beat me until blood was running down my face, I could taste it.
‘I thought I would fall unconscious. The power of the first blow to my head was just brutal. I thought she was never going to stop, she just kept going and going.
‘The room was full of security guys, including her bodyguards. They just stood there, in silence, watching it all happen. Eventually, I managed to get out of the room and run for help.’
Grace Mugabe aspires to succeed her nonagenarian husband as head of state in Zimbabwe
Earlier in August, she was reportedly held briefly in Singapore after attempting to destroy camera equipment belonging to two journalists.
In 2009 she was accused by British photographer Richard Jones of punching him in the face repeatedly while her bodyguards pinned him to the ground, outside a hotel in Hong Kong. On both occasions, the diplomatic immunity card was played, protecting her from possible prosecution.
The question is, will that ploy work for the Mugabe household again?