A woman allegedly assaulted by Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe, has claimed she was offered a bribe to drop the charge.
Gabriella Engels, 20, a model, said through her lawyer that the person who contacted her told her: “Let us talk and this will go away.” They suggested money could change hands, adding: “Name your price.”
Mrs Mugabe, 52, is alleged to have beaten Ms Engels with an electrical flex, injuring her with the plug, after finding her and two other girls in a Johannesburg hotel room reportedly booked by her sons on Sunday night.
Ms Engels claimed that Mrs Mugabe accused her of living with her sons Robert Jr, 25, and Chatunga, 21, before assaulting her and two other female friends while her bodyguards looked on. Police said they had sufficient evidence to charge Mrs Mugabe with assault.
The case risks provoking a diplomatic rift between the two southern African neighbours. Mrs Mugabe is a powerful political figure who is thought to have ambitions to succeed her elderly husband.
Ms Engels (pictured) claim Mrs Mugabe beat her in front of more than ten bodyguards
She said she would give a statement to police but after rescheduling the appointment several times sent lawyers who requested that she be given diplomatic immunity.
A “red alert” has been issued to all the country’s airports and borders to ensure Mrs Mugabe does not try to leave the country while the government deliberates on the request.
Her husband, 93, flew into Pretoria yesterday to attend a Southern African Development Community summit. His wife was in South Africa for treatment for a foot injury, but police said she would join him at the summit today and in meetings with other African in what has been interpreted as an attempt to transform a private visit into an official one.
Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, a police spokesman, told The Times that their investigation had been concluded and Mrs Mugabe faced a case of assault causing grievous bodily harm.
Ms Engels’s case has been taken on by Gerrie Nel, a former state prosecutor who won the nickname the Bulldog for his prosecution of Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic and Paralympic athlete who killed his girlfriend. Mr Nel said yesterday that if the South African authorities failed to hold Mrs Mugabe to account, he would launch a private prosecution against her.
Sitting next to Ms Engels, who wore three large bandages on her forehead and the back of her head, Mr Nel said she had been left “in fear of her life” and “traumatised” by the incident.