South Africa has granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity

Zimbabwe's 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe arrived early in Pretoria for a regional southern African summit this week to help resolve his wife's legal problems, the source said.

Grace Mugabe, 52, is claiming diplomatic immunity after she was accused of assaulting a model last week.

Engels - who has registered a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm - appeared at a press conference on Thursday, wearing a large plaster on her forehead.

South Africa police have moved swiftly and issued a "red-alert" on the borders of the country in'order to completely seal off any exit route for Zimbabwe's first lady.

Engels has said she "did not lift a finger on the first lady" and told local media: "We were chilling in a hotel room, and [the sons] were in the room next door".

This week, South Africans watched as Police Minister Fikile Mbalula gave varying accounts of why Mugabe had not been arrested and questioned the government's apparent lacklustre approach to the matter.

The lawyer who prosecuted Blade Runner killer Oscar Pistorius said he was ready to represent Gabriella Engels, 20, in a court battle against the Zimbabwean dictator's wife.

But Ms Mugabe failed to show at the Wynburg Magistrates Court and has not been seen in public since, although the South African authorities insist she is still in the country. "If they fail to do so, there is a sure possibility of private prosecution", Nel said.

Debbie Engels, the alleged victim's mother, welcomed the assistance saying she was glad the family was not left alone. She cornered me... and started beating the hell out of me. "Sadly the other countries in the region are watching us and how we are going to act", the source said, asking not to be named. But by the close of business she hadn't been arrested or handed herself over to the police.

In 2014, Grace confronted journalists at a Singaporean hospital as she bid to block them from photographing Mugabe as he entered Gleneagles facility for his medical check-up. And the granting of diplomatic immunity would transgress the law'.

A senior government official in Harare told African Independent the grounding of the AirZim aircraft in Johannesburg has touched a raw nerve in Zimbabwe.

Gabriella Engels' allegations made Mrs Mugabe request a diplomatic immunity but Pretoria is yet to comment on whether it will grant it.

In 2009, Grace was investigated by Hong Kong police for an alleged assault on a British photographer during a shopping trip to the city.

  • Stacy Allen