Zimbabwe's First Lady Granted Immunity After Assault Allegation

Gabriella Engels claimed to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe

Some demonstrators are protesting in Pretoria against the 93-year-old Mugabe and his wife, saying she should be prosecuted.

The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), called for a parliamentary inquiry into South Africa's decision to let the Zimbabwean first lady leave, tweeting that the government has "no more legitimacy in the arena of worldwide diplomacy and displays a total disregard for the rule of law". So far she had made no attempt to flee, he added. "Sadly the other countries in the region are watching us and how we are going to act", an unnamed source said in a report published by Reuters news agency on Friday.

Willie Spies, the lawyer representing the model who said she was assaulted, speculated that the airline impasse was a Zimbabwean ruse created to distract attention from the first lady's troubles. Engels said that Mrs. Mugabe "walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it".

Ms Engels appeared at a press conference on Thursday with several large white dressings on her head and a large photo of her injury and Mrs Mugabe in the background.

The lawyers did not reveal the amount offered.

"The family was approached via third parties, offering them money to settle the matter", said Nel.

The 52-year-old has been unable to leave South Africa since she arrived last week.

South African Airways said Zimbabwean authorities were demanding a foreign operator's permit, something that had never been required in the more than two decades the airline has been flying to and from neighbouring Zimbabwe.

"The Minister has made the determination that the conferring of diplomatic immunity is warranted in this particular instance", the statement said.

"We kept telling her "we do not know where he is. we haven't seen him for the night".

Some in South Africa say Mrs. Mugabe should return and face assault charges.

Grace has asked for diplomatic immunity to avoid being arrested.

The model's mother Mrs Engel told the media she was relieved when the lawyers came to her daughter's rescue.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was a no-show at the closing ceremony of the 37th Ordinary Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Summit held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria.

Willie Spies said he would argue that the first lady should not have been given special treatment as she had been in South Africa on private business. Officials had said that "since she's not a head of state, diplomat or cabinet official, she would not be covered by diplomatic immunity", Peter Granitz reported previously for NPR. It won't apply if she's here on holiday or for something else. Zimbabwe government officials were not available.

"She is not untouchable", Kallie Kriel, the CEO of AfriForum said.

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

Let's call the decision to grant Grace Mugabe a free pass to assault whoever she likes exactly what it is: A miscarriage of justice...

Mugabe has a history of violence- she's assaulted journalists in Singapore, a photographer in Hong Kong, airport staff in Malaysia and another journalist in Dubai.

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