DEPUTY Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Energy Mutodi has said Zimbabwe will not stand aside and watch while former First Lady Grace Mugabe is being “denigrated and embarrassed” by South African courts.
Mutodi’s comments come in the wake of an arrest warrant which was issued by the South African National Prosecuting Authority against Grace Mugabe over allegations she assaulted a South African model Gabriella Engels with an electric extension cable.
Mutodi said: “We note a warrant of arrest on Grace Mugabe for a crime allegedly committed while she was on a diplomatic visit in South Africa.
“We make it clear that Zim will not smile on any attempt to embarrass, harrass or degrade former President Mugabe or his immediate family members.”
Opposition MDC Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora responded: “Does the young woman who was violated deserve justice? Has your government made any offer of compensation for the victim?”
The South African police are seeking Interpol’s help to enforce an arrest warrant for Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe over an alleged assault of a model in Johannesburg last year, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday.
After the alleged beating with an electric cable came to light in August 2017, the South African government granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.
That immunity was overturned by a South African court this year after the alleged victim, Gabriella Engels, challenged the decision.
“I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday,” South African Police Service spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said, adding police were seeking Interpol’s help to enforce it.
The incident took place at a hotel in the affluent Sandton neighbourhood when Engels was with two of Mugabe’s sons, according to the model. Grace Mugabe arrived and lashed out at her without reason, she said.
Mugabe later was allowed to return to Zimbabwe without being prosecuted.
Representatives of Mugabe have said Engels was the aggressor in the altercation.
The warrant means should the former first lady – sometimes dubbed “Gucci Grace” for her lavish lifestyle – now enter South Africa she will be arrested.
AfriForum, a South African group that represented Engels, said the court ruling allowed police to proceed with an investigation. “We believe that this sends out a strong message that nobody is above the law, not even if your surname is Mugabe,” said Kallie Kriel, the group’s CEO.
No comment has been made so far by the South African government.