A court in South Africa issued an arrest warrant for the former First Lady of Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting model Gabriella Engels last year.
“I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday,” said police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo in a statement on Wednesday. “We are following the Interpol processes, so we applying for assistance to secure her arrest.”
The warrant, issued by Randburg Magistrates court in Gauteng province last week, charges Mugabe with “assault causing grievous bodily harm,” after Engel accused Mugabe of assaulting her with an electrical extension cord in a Johannesburg hotel room last August.
“She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it,” Engels said at the time. “She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away. There was blood everywhere. Over my arms, in my hair, everywhere.”
Mugabe initially received diplomatic immunity from the South African government who allowed her to leave the country, although the decision was overturned in July this year. Mugabe has repeatedly denied the charges, claiming that she acted in self-defense after the “intoxicated and unhinged” model attacked her after she found her partying with her two sons. Mugabe herself was treated for an ankle injury after the incident. She is yet to comment publicly on the arrest warrant.
As noted by the BBC, it remains unlikely that Mugabe would be extradited to South Africa in the near future, given the time and effort required for a process of extradition and that she is likely to be far more careful with her own travel plans.
Grace Mugabe was long a prominent figure as first lady of Zimbabwe, earning the nickname “Gucci Grace” for her extravagant shopping sprees and lavish lifestyle. She also began a political figure, threatening to take over the country after Robert Mugabe died and engaging in a dramatic power struggle with her husband’s vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, which resulted in his temporary exile to South Africa before returning to replace Mugabe in a coup.
While remaining a public figure, she is vilified by the majority of Zimbabweans and the political class. Mnangagwa recently blamed her for a bomb explosion during a campaign rally, killing two and injured dozens more.