Grace Mugabe in first appearance after alleged assault

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 18, 2017 shows President Robert Mugabe kissing his wife and first lady Grace Mugabe during the country’s 37th Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. South African police on August 15, investigated an alleged assault by the Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe on a model who was in a hotel in Johannesburg with her two sons. Grace Mugabe is alleged to have attacked Gabriella Engels, 20, with an extension cord on August 13, leaving her with wounds on her forehead and on the back of her head./ AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe appeared in public for the first time Friday since she returned from South Africa where she was accused of assaulting a model and granted diplomatic immunity.

The wife of President Robert Mugabe allegedly attacked 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels with an electrical extension cord at an upmarket hotel in Johannesburg where the couple’s two sons were staying.

Grace Mugabe appeared at the Harare annual agricultural fair, smiling and stopping to chat with exhibitors as she toured stands alongside her husband, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

The first lady, who is seen as possible successor to her 93-year-old husband, was granted diplomatic immunity by South Africa at the weekend and flew out of the country.

Engels suffered cuts to her forehead and the back of her head during the alleged August 13 assault.

She has opened a police case alleging assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Engels’ lawyers this week filed a court injunction to try to annul the government decision to grant Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

South Africa’s main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, has also approached the courts asking it to declare the immunity “wholly without legal merit” and “unconstitutional”.

The party is arguing that Grace Mugabe is not a member of the Zimbabwean government and was visiting South Africa on personal business.

“There is nothing in either South African or international law which renders her deserving of diplomatic immunity,” the DA said in a statement.

In 2009, Grace Mugabe was granted immunity in Hong Kong after repeatedly punching a British photographer for taking pictures of her at a luxury hotel.

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