Grace cornered as SA seals its borders

HARARE – South Africa yesterday sealed all its borders and issued a high-level security alert to its agents to look out for under-pressure First Lady Grace Mugabe in case she tries to flee the country where she is alleged to have assaulted a 20-year-old model.

This comes as it has also emerged that the family of the 20-year-old Gabriella Engels had been allegedly approached by the First Family’s emissaries for an out-of-court settlement.

At the same time, lawyers acting for Engels said they had been told that police were now weighing issuing Grace with a warrant of arrest as pressure mounted for the South African authorities to deny her immunity from prosecution.

Speaking on the sidelines of an indaba on gender-based violence, South African Police minister Fikile Mbalula told journalists that police had put out a “red alert” at their borders for Grace, in case she attempted to leave the country.

He, however, said she had not made attempts to flee.

“We, in terms of South African Police, already put tabs in the borders in relation to her leaving the country, so there is no question about that.

“So tabs have been put, a red alert has been put, so she is not somebody who has been running away,” said Mbalula.

Grace has been accused of severely assaulting Engels whom she found with her two sons — Robert Junior and Chatunga Bellarmine — at their hotel in Sandton, on Sunday.

Engels is alleging that she was struck several times with an extension cord and was left nursing deep wounds which needed stitching.

Yesterday, she appeared at a televised press conference where her lawyers from Afriforum made stunning revelations that Grace had offered her family money for an out-of-court settlement via third parties.

The lawyers did not reveal the amount offered.

“The family has not been kept abreast with what has been happening, the more concerning thing is that the family has been approached via a third party to accept an amount of money to settle this, and the family is not interested in doing this and we will definitely assist. If nothing happens, we will consider doing private prosecution,” said Gerrie Nel, South Africa’s top lawyer who is representing Engels with instructions from rights group, Afriforum.

Nel, who is famed for prosecuting high-profile cases during his time in the South African National Prosecuting Authority, also said police were considering issuing a warrant of arrest for Grace.

“As of this morning, there wasn’t a warrant issued yet, but I have to say and that came out in consultation with Gabriella that the investigating officer called her and told her that they will now authorise it.

“If she (Grace) escapes jurisdiction, we will really do what we can in terms of the law, in terms of extraditions but it’s a very difficult question to answer now on what we should do, but we are focusing now on the suspect is still in the country,” Nel told journalists.

Engels’ mother, Debbie, said she was convinced that Grace was not going to find it easy to escape the charges levelled against her.

“We are so grateful for all the help you guys are giving us at least now I can sleep at little more peaceful knowing that I have people in my corner that are going to help me fight get justice for my daughter and I know these people are not going to back down. Now I know that this woman (Grace) is not going to get off scot-free for what she did to my child,” she said.

Grace has asked for diplomatic immunity to avoid being arrested.

She’s yet to be granted immunity.

According to South African legislation, she can only be granted immunity if her visit to South Africa was gazetted by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) in advance.

However, Dirco has already said since Grace was not on official business and as a result, diplomatic immunity would not apply in her case.

“Firstly‚ for it to apply‚ she needs to be here on official business. It won’t apply if she’s here on holiday or for something else.

“Secondly‚ as a first lady‚ she’s not part of government or a government official. It doesn’t apply just because she’s the wife of a president,” said Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela.

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.

Grace has in the past been caught in incidents of violence.

In 2009, Grace was investigated by Hong Kong police for an alleged assault on a British photographer during a shopping trip to the city.

She was accused of repeatedly punching Richard Jones — chief photographer of the Hong Kong photo agency Sinopix — who was on an assignment for the British Sunday Times.

In 2014, Grace confronted journalists at a Singaporean hospital as she bid to block them from photographing Mugabe as he entered Gleneagles facility for his medical check-up.

Comments (10)

We all are in your corner Gabriella and family, we want to see justice delivered and I am sure justice will prevail. I suggest SA citizens and Zimbabweans in SA start marching to demonstrate against any hotel housing disGrace because I think she's being disrespectful to the young lady and her family by not surrendering her sorry self to the authorities.

misty - 18 August 2017

hope it doesn't raise dust for our friends & relatives living in sa! munhu wepi anosvikobhura wana, imbwa nekitsi dzepamba paashanya?

SaManyika Chaiye - 18 August 2017

What the f..k are these SA police talking about ? They are saying they aresealing the borders and at the same time they are claiming she has made no attempt to escape. So they know where she is but previously they said they cannot locate her. In any case her husband Roby took off for SA earlier than planned to meet his jongolia goat. They have been promised big bucks but Gerrie Nel will bring everything to naught. The law, the law, the law. Mangamajaira. Svairasha Gire: This time svirikuripinda jere. She is a spoilt bum who thinks she can get awaywith anything anywhere the same way she does it to zvikukuvatavata zvemuZimbabbwe. Svichairidza mhere yecolonialism neyemaSanctions but in this case even mbudzi dzasvo dzemuZimbabwe dzichati : aiwa on this onew they will not lend their shattered eyes.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 18 August 2017

Don't get excited massive. Unlike Zanu, these SA guys know the right thing to say in public which is not necessarily what's playing behind closed doors. She might walk.

zuze - 18 August 2017

@zuze. What do you mean she might walk ? Be clear in what you are saying. I can interpret it to mean tht "she may walk free of being charged of any wrong doing." which will a the greatest traversity of justice even in ourown African sense. The point is she is under self-imposed stressand she alone has to answer for that. Nobody in Zi begrudge her in her claim to be the first lady of Zimbabwe but what I do not acceipt is for her to commit crimes especially in foreign lands on my country`s name. Let those who want to be stupid be so be so but not in my country`s name. No single Zimbabwean own this country. If you want to start a war ( which you may not win ) go along this path. Grow up ! Be educated enough to realise this fact. Remember Mugabe is not Zimbabwe. He himself in his "humble" pretences has signified it to that effect.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 18 August 2017

High time for the mugarbage troglodytes to answer to the law and face the can. They don't own the world. In fact, they are nothing more than pests and oxygen wasters.

jim - 18 August 2017

Dream on! She will be granted immunity. Its Africa, isn't it?

Sven Nilsson - 18 August 2017

Grace is a DISgrace. The arrogance of her and this Mugabe family to think they can behave however they want in a foreign country and get off scot-free is shameful. I will quote 3 famous words from President Donald Trump ... LOCK. HER. UP. !!!!!

DISgrace - 18 August 2017

All the way Doctor Amai nothing will STOP YOU..........STOP IT Gabriella Engels

Vanhu Vese Kuna Doctor Amai Grace - 19 August 2017

the first lady enjoys diplomatic immunity on any of her travels whether private or not,the south africans were notifyed in advance of her iternary so that they could extend the courtesys consistent with such a high profile person,for anyone to think otherwise shows their shallow understanding of international affairs,then enter afriforum,an afrikaaner lobby group anyone thinking that their interest in this case is justiceis an idiot,instead of prosecuting crimes committed by their fellow whites against blacks during apartheid,the unrepetant racists just relishes to have a go at a black first lady,and their cause is blindly supported by clueless zimbos who have no idea of the real motives of the racists disguised as justice,for a country that has record high crime levels,minister mbalula is advised to direct his energies towards making south africa a safe place for its citizens andstop making reckless comments

truth - 19 August 2017

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