South Africa issues arrest warrant for Grace Mugabe

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President Robert Mugabe listens to his wife Grace Mugabe at a rally of his ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 8, 2017.REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

South Africa has issued an arrest warrant for Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe over an alleged assault on a model.

Grace Mugabe

South African Police Service spokesman Vishnu Naidoo on Wednesday confirmed the issuance of the arrest warrant last week.

“I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday,” Naidoo said.

Mrs. Mugabe is accused of assaulting Gabriella Engels in a Johannesburg hotel last year

The South African government had initially granted the former first lady diplomatic immunity but was overturned by a court after Engels, challenged the decision.

There was no immediate comment from Mrs. Mugabe or from authorities in Harare.

She has denied assaulting Engels with an electric cable, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels attacked her with a knife after the model had gone to see the Mugabes’ sons at the hotel.

Mrs. Mugabe was seen as a potential successor to her 94-year-old husband Robert, who ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until he was ousted in a coup late last year, at the time of the incident in a luxury hotel in Johannesburg’s Sandton district.

South African advocacy group Afriforum, which represented Engels, has dismissed Mrs. Mugabe’s denial as a lie.

Mrs. Mugabe has retreated from the limelight in Zimbabwe since her husband was ousted in the November 2017 coup.