ONE of President Robert Mugabe’s sons Robert Jr reportedly bumped into a pregnant South African waiter, forcing her to abort her baby in the mayhem that followed First Lady Grace Mugabe’s storming a Johannesburg hotel before savagely assaulting a model on Sunday last week.
Grace has been the subject of international media attention after she reportedly bashed Gabriella Engels (20), leaving the South African model with a deep gash on her forehead among other injuries. It has now emerged that Mugabe’s wife budged into Capital 20 West Hotel in Johannesburg’s plush Sandton suburb, flew into a fit of rage and savaged everyone in sight with an electric extension cord.
In the melee that ensued, Robert Jnr escaped but accidentally bumped into a pregnant woman who then lost her baby after admission to hospital, according to South African media reports.
“She was not hit by Grace. It was Robert Jnr who pushed her out of the way as he ran away from his mother. Grace did hit staff members … She was hitting everyone — her sons, their friends, the girls and staff members,” a colleague hotel employee was quoted as having confirmed the incident.
Grace slipped out of South Africa and returned to Harare early yesterday along with her ailing 93 year-old husband after having been granted diplomatic immunity as the legal noose closed in. President Jacob Zuma’s administration buckled under pressure from Mugabe’s government allowing Grace free passage despite Police minister Fikile Mbalula having claimed South Africa had issued a “Red Alert” on all its ports of entry to stop the First Lady from leaving the neighbouring country. The First Lady is said to have offered Engels financial compensation through a third party, an offer which was rejected.
South Africa’s International Relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in a notice published in the South African Government Gazette recognised Grace’s immunity.
“In accordance with the powers vested in me by section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001, (Act No. 37 of 2001) and acting in the interests of the Republic of South Africa, I hereby recognise the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Grace Mugabe in terms of international law and as set out in the attached notice,” Nkoana-Mashabane said in the notice published yesterday.
Grace was initially in South Africa to seek medical attention after a freak accident involving Mugabe’s motorcade on the Zanu PF leader’s return from Asia last month.
Reports from South Africa also indicate that Grace had met with hotel management over the miscarriage and her violent behaviour.
Garnet Basson, chief operating officer at The Capital Hotel Group, could neither deny nor confirm the incident.
“We are handling this thing internally. Please respect that. We will decide on how to deal with this matter going forward.
“It’s the staff member’s privacy that we must respect. I can assure you that we are doing everything in all aspects to ensure that we follow the necessary steps,” Basson said
The chaotic week — with Grace at the centre of the assault debacle — almost turned into a full-blown diplomatic row after authorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe engaged in retaliatory actions banning each other’s flights over permits. Reports yesterday indicated normal flights had since resumed between the two neighbours.
Mugabe invoked diplomatic immunity to save his wife from arrest, claiming she was part of Zimbabwe’s advance delegation to the just-ended Sadc summit. Human rights group AfriForum has threatened to push for a private prosecution if Zuma’s government refuses to take Grace to court.
When Grace Mugabe entered politics in July 2014 and took over as head of the Zanu PF Women’s League, her rise was dismissed as a fluke.