Zimbabwe's first lady seeks diplomatic immunity over assault claim

The authorities say she remains in South Africa and her request for immunity is under consideration.

Zimbabwe's government has requested diplomatic immunity for the first lady, who remains in South Africa.

The source told Reuters that the government was expecting to be challenged in court over its decision.

A South African model, who accused Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe of assault, is being represented by the lawyer who secured the murder conviction of Oscar Pistorius.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel says although there has been no threat to Engels' life, they have offered to provide her with security.

Police have said Grace will get no special treatment, and Engels' mother, Debbie, is cranking up the public pressure, including releasing graphic pictures of her daughter's head injuries that required 14 stitches. She's also famous for her overseas shopping sprees, including reportedly once spending $96,000 in a single day on luxury goods in Paris and taking 15 carts worth of purchases into the first-class lounge of the Singapore airport.


She said the first lady's bodyguards had stood by watching. She cornered me... and started beating the hell out of me.

A senior government source said on Friday there was "no way" Grace Mugabe, 52, would be arrested because of the diplomatic fallout that would ensue from Zimbabwe.

He said Ms Engels was suffering secondary trauma from all the attention.

Engels said she suffered deep cuts to her forehead and the back of her head and has opened a police case alleging assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. "I'm a model and I make my money based on my looks".

"We are not preparing an arrest warrant yet", the source said.

Gabriella Engels during a press conference. They're going to fight for her all the way.


"The family is not interested in doing this", Nel added.

That speculation does little to help her in the eyes of South Africa's ministry of worldwide relations, though. Talks at ministerial level are already underway between Zimbabwe and South Africa to resolve the impasse.

The matter was unveiled by an organization that volunteered to offer legal services, Afriforum.

According to President Robert Mugabe, Grace missed last week's youth interface rally in Gwanda as she had travelled to South Africa for treatment on her injured ankle, in a statement which appeared to suggest that his wife's trip was private and personal.

However, local legal experts insist she is not eligible for this special status for foreigners who are on state business overseas, as she was in South Africa attending to a private matter when the incident occurred.

The Engels incident is not the first time Grace Mugabe has been in legal hot water.



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