The South African Police Service (Saps) has been keeping tabs on Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe who is accused of assaulting two young women in Johannesburg, to ensure that she doesn’t leave the country, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.
Mbalula said there was no way President Robert Mugabe’s wife could leave South Africa before clearing her name in the matter.
“I can say to you, the matter is receiving our attention and we are liaising with all involved in the matter of the suspect [Grace Mugabe] who was supposed to appear in court but did not. In this particular instance, we as the Saps have already put tabs in the borders in relation to her leaving the country so there is no question about that. The red alert has been put,” Mbalula told reporters in Pretoria.
“She is not somebody who has been running away, from what she said. In fact she has her own version of the events … it’s not up to us to engage with that. It is for our investigators who have the case and to engage with her to come and answer in relation to this matter. It is our commitment.”
Mbalula said the matter of Mrs Mugabe is different from that of “somebody else” because she has sought to invoke diplomatic immunity.
“If it was somebody else, in relation with being a suspect … we could have long moved and raided on her in terms of the issues,” said Mbalula.
He commended the police for being in control of the case since the allegations of assault emerged against Grace Mugabe.
“My job as a minister is to ensure that our citizens are protected without fear or favour, and that is what I must enforce that our police execute. But equally, I don’t want them to bungle and to bring things into disrepute in the country. Anybody who comes to South Africa must know that we are a constitutional State, and we are a law State. Nothing will just be left,” said Mbalula.
He said the question of Grace Mugabe’s immunity was currently being attended to before the police move in.
“It has come to our attention that it [the case of Grace Mugabe] might have not only immunity but diplomatic implications. From the perspective of the police we have done what we could. The matter is with the police who are handling the matter in relation to the case that has been opened. A case has long been opened. It is not just a case of an ordinary person. It has all those implications that must be attended to,” said Mbalula.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe arrived in Pretoria last night for the 37th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, amidst the controversy surrounding his wife Grace.
Mugabe reportedly arrived earlier than scheduled so that he could intervene in his wife’s matter.
Twenty-year-old model Gabriella Engels has accused Grace Mugabe of assaulting her while she was visiting Mugabe’s sons in a hotel room in an upscale Johannesburg suburb. The woman claims the first lady’s bodyguards stood by and watched as Mugabe attacked her.
Engels posted several photos on social media showing a gash in her forehead, which she said was a result of the alleged assault.