Red alert for Grace Mugabe

Red alert for Grace Mugabe
The South African police have issued a “Red Alert” for Grace Mugabe, South African police have issued a "red alert" on the country's borders to prevent Zimbabwe's..

The South African police have issued a “Red Alert” for Grace Mugabe, South African police have issued a "red alert" on the country's borders to prevent Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe from fleeing.

She has been accused of physically assaulting a model in Johannesburg.

Background

Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, has been the first lady of Zimbabwe since 1996. A controversial figure in Zimbabwe, she has been in the center of multiple scandals over the years. She is particularly known for her lavish lifestyle and has been criticized as such for that. Her businesses and property have come under scrutiny.

Grace Mugabe has also been accused of assault before. It has been reported that she ordered her bodyguard to assault a photographer standing outside her luxury hotel during a trip to Hong Kong. According to media reports, she joined in on the assault and punched the victim causing injury. However, she was granted immunity by China on the grounds of being the wife of the President of Zimbabwe.

Analysis

According to a 20-year-old model named Gabriella Engels, Mugabe is said to have attacked in a Johannesburg hotel with an electric cable. Allegedly the first lady flew into a rage after she found Engels with her two sons. Photographs of the bruises and cuts on Engels’ face have gone viral. Mugabe was reportedly in South Africa seeking medical attention.

Grace Mugabe has requested immunity and charges have not yet been formally filed against her. Even though her whereabouts are currently unknown, the South African police is confident that she is still in the country.

The South African 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 (of Mugabe leaving). So, tabs have been put, a red alert has been put, so she is not somebody who has been running away."

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane has reacted to the incident by condemning the first lady. She said, “I am deeply appalled and devastated by the allegations of assault on a young woman by Grace Mugabe… No one has a right to abuse women irrespective of situations they find themselves in. People of Grace’s calibre were supposed to live an exemplary life and be a role model to inspire young women.”

President Mugabe is also in South Africa currently to attend a regional summit.

Assessment

Our assessment is that since Grace Mugabe entered South Africa on medical grounds, experts believe that she may not get diplomatic immunity. It is possible that prosecutors may not pursue the case given the political fallout it might incur.   

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