South Africa debates immunity for Zimbabwe first lady

Zimbabwe's first lady assaults lady found with her sons, surrenders self to Police

Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe, returned to her homeland on Tuesday from South Africa after failing to turn herself in to South African police to face charges of assaulting a woman in Johannesburg.

The 52-year-old Mugabe - wife of Robert Mugabe, the country's leader of more than three decades - allegedly confronted Gabriella Engels, 20, at a hotel where she had been "chilling" with her friends on Sunday evening.

Mugabe is due in Johannesburg court Tuesday afternoon but is "not under arrest because she cooperated and handed herself over", Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said in a video posted on eNCA.

She immediately tried to open a case of assault at the Sandton police station.

South African media reports say diplomatic immunity will not apply in the case because Mrs Mugabe is not a part of Zimbabwe's government or a government official.

Appearing before a parliamentary committee earlier, South Africa's acting police chief Lesetja Mothiba said that Grace "must go to court".

[It's] claimed the country's first lady then attacked Ms Engel with an extension cord after finding her in a hotel with her sons, Robert Jnr, 25, and Chatunga 21.

Pictures on social media appeared to show Engels bleeding from her head after the alleged assault at the hotel in the upmarket business district of Sandton.

"When Grace entered I had no idea who she was".

Engels said that the two Mugabe boys, who are reportedly studying in the city and have a reputation for partying, ran away from the incident. "It doesn't apply just because she's the wife of a president‚" Monyela said.

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The 20-year-old model informed the police of her assault, who advised her to first seek medical attention.

Zimbabwe's government has sent official correspondence to the International Relations Department, invoking diplomatic immunity for its First Lady.

"The suspect in this matter can not be named because she has not as yet appeared in court".

MDC-T Women Assembly National Chairperson Lynette Karenyi said Grace's behaviour is not reflective of Zimbabweans' conduct as a people adding "as a nation and women, we are baffled, shocked and annoyed by her actions".

The News24 website quoted Ms Engels' version of events in the hotel room.

"She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug".

Grace Mugabe is a leading candidate to succeed the aging, ailing president as both leader of the ruling party and head of state in Zimbabwe.

It really wouldn't have made sense for her to flee to Zimbabwe yet President Mugabe is travelling to South Africa.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwean President #Robert Mugabe's main opposition, as well as other pro-democracy groups have slammed the incident.

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