Monday, 21 August 2017
ZIMBABWE: Grace Mugabe Is Back To Harare From South Africa
Mugabe was able to leave South Africa after its government approved her request for diplomatic immunity.
There was no immediate public comment on Tuesday on the case from Grace, 52, a possible successor to her husband President Robert Mugabe, 93, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.
But Zimbabwe government sources confirmed she had returned home.
"Yes, she is back in the country. We don't know where this issue of assault charges is coming from," a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.
A second official also confirmed that Grace had returned, saying she is around now and accused the news media of a plot to tarnish the first family's name.
Earlier, South African police had been negotiating with Grace's lawyers to get her to turn herself in to face charges of assault, a senior police source said.
Twenty-year-old Gabriella Engels told South African news media that Grace attacked her after the model had gone to see the Mugabes' sons Robert and Chatunga at a hotel in Johannesburg's Sandton district on Sunday.
Confusion surrounded the case on Tuesday. Fikile Mbalula, South Africa's police minister, said early on Tuesday that Grace had already handed herself in to police and would appear in court shortly.
But in the afternoon, the magistrates' court where Grace had been expected to be formally charged closed for the day without her appearing.
The police source said Grace had originally agreed to hand herself in at 10am local time (08:00 GMT) but failed to do so.
The source said police were investigating a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Asked if Grace was now considered a fugitive, the source said that was not the case at this stage.
One cannot be a fugitive for not appearing at a court to which they have not been summoned and when they have not been charged of any crime! Jonathan Moyo, Grace's close ally and Zimbabwe's higher education minister, said on Twitter.
South African news media said Grace had been in the country to have an injured foot examined. It was unclear whether she was travelling on a diplomatic passport.
On whether she could be arrested despite having diplomatic immunity, South Africa's Mbalula said: All those implications will be taken into consideration.He then added: She will be charged.
A Zimbabwean intelligence source said Grace had been travelling on an ordinary non-diplomatic passport and was in South Africa on personal business.
Engels' version of events in the hotel room was that when Grace entered, I had no idea who she was. She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it, the model said.
She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised, I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.
Engels sustained a large wound in her forehead. I am a model, with this scar over my face my whole career is ruined, she said.
It was unclear what triggered the incident.
Mugabe's two sons were kicked out of the Regent luxury apartment complex in Sandton last month after an incident in the middle of the night, staff at the complex said.
Imelda Fincham, Regent's manager, did not elaborate but confirmed the pair had left. They're no longer here, she said.
In 2009, a press photographer in Hong Kong said Grace and her bodyguard had assaulted him. Police there said the incident was reported but that no charges were brought.
President Mugabe spoke at a public event marking Defence Forces Day in Harare on Tuesday but did not mention Grace.
Grace was in the news in late July when she challenged her husband to name his preferred successor.
The issue of who will succeed Mugabe has deeply divided Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
One faction supports Grace and the other Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is recovering in a South African hospital after he fell ill and was airlifted from Zimbabwe.
Grace has taken on a larger public role in recent years, speaking regularly at meetings to drum up support for her husband and heading the women's league of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
In speeches this year the president has often slurred his words, mumbled and paused for lengthy periods.
His reign has been marked by brutal repression of dissent, mass emigration, vote rigging and a sharp economic decline since land reforms in 2000.
Grace was born in Benoni in South Africa, and her family lived in South Africa until 1970.She was previously married to Stanley Goreraza, an air force pilot, who is defence attaché at the Zimbabwe embassy in China with whom she had a son, Russell Goreraza, born 1984.
As secretary to the president, she became his mistress while still married to Goreraza and together they had two children, Bona, named after Mugabe's mother, and Robert Peter, Jr.The couple were married in an extravagant Catholic Mass, titled the "Wedding of the Century" by the Zimbabwe press, after the death of Mugabe's first wife, Sally Hayfron.
In 1997, Grace Mugabe gave birth to the couple's third child, Chatunga.
In 2014, Grace Mugabe was given a doctorate in sociology by the University of Zimbabwe only two months after registering at the university, without defending a dissertation.
The degree was widely described as fraudulent.Grace Mugabe is under personal sanctions in the European Union and the United States for her role in the Mugabe regime.
Grace Mugabe was designated as head of the ZANU-PF Women's wing in 2014.
In late 2014, Grace Mugabe was fiercely critical of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who allegedly plotted against her husband President Mugabe.
Ultimately, the accusations against Mujuru resulted in her elimination as a candidate to succeed Mugabe and effectively becoming an outcast within ZANU-PF by the time it held a party congress in December 2014.
Meanwhile, Grace Mugabe's political prominence increased. She was nominated as head of the ZANU-PF Women's League, and delegates to the party congress approved her nomination by acclamation on 6 December 2014.
In becoming head of the women's league, she also became a member of the ZANU-PF Politburo.
After observers from the European Union were barred from examining Zimbabwe's 2002 elections, the EU imposed sanctions on 20 members of the Zimbabwe leadership and then, in July, extended them to include Grace Mugabe and 51 others, banning them from travelling to participating countries and freezing any assets held there. The United States instituted similar restrictions.
During her tenure as first lady, Grace Mugabe has overseen the construction of two palaces. The first, referred to commonly as "Gracelands", became controversial for its extravagance, and Grace Mugabe later explained that she had paid for its construction with her own personal savings.
It was later sold to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The second was completed in 2007, costing around $26 million. Reportedly the construction was funded by the ZANU-PF party to thank Robert Mugabe for his political service.
In 2002, Grace Mugabe toured farm properties in Zimbabwe, looking for a new location for herself and her family. She chose the Iron Mask Estate, which had been previously owned by farmers John and Eva Matthews.
The first family owns property in Malaysia, and in early 2008, it was reported that Grace Mugabe hoped to move there with her children. The intention behind the move was to escape the stress of leadership and to address fears that the first family faces assassination.Recent reports indicate that she acquired property holdings in Hong Kong, including a diamond cutting business and a bolt-hole at House Number Three, JC Castle, 18 Shan Tong Road, Tai Po, New Territories.
The media speculates that this property acquisition is intended as both a weekend getaway pad for their daughter Bona who is studying at the University of Hong Kong under an assumed name and that she and her husband expect to escape to China should they be ousted from power in Zimbabwe.
Grace Mugabe is known for her lavish lifestyle. The Daily Telegraph called her "notorious at home for her profligacy" in coverage of a 2003 trip to Paris,during which she was reported as spending £75,000 (approx US$120,000) in a short shopping spree; and in the years leading up to 2004 withdrew over £5 million from the Central Bank of Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe she is known sarcastically as "DR Amai" in reference to her Doctorate degree which she was given by her husband, Robert Mugabe. When Grace Mugabe was included in the 2002 sanctions, one EU parliamentarian said that the ban would stop Grace Mugabe going on her shopping trips in the face of catastrophic poverty blighting the people of Zimbabwe.She faces similar sanctions in the United States.
Early reports indicated Bona Mugabe was a student at the University of Hong Kong. A protest started on the University of Zimbabwe campus on 3 February 2009 resulting in about 30 students needing medical treatment including police forces being used against defenceless citizens and harassments of students.
Zimbabwe students were protesting to the P. R. Chinese embassy that Bona Mugabe should return home to Zimbabwe and study in the same conditions as her peers.Colleges and universities in Zimbabwe failed to open at some point in 2008 due to dollarisation of fees and other economic problems.
On 17 February the University of Hong Kong distanced itself from the controversy, denying a report that she was a student there. The school statement said "We do not have a student by the name of Bona Mugabe on our student register, and we do not have any lady student from Zimbabwe who is reading for an undergraduate programme or is at the age of around 20."
Subsequent reports clarified that Bona was in fact enrolled in a second school, the City University of Hong Kong,which said she met normal admission requirements and her enrollment was not influenced by her parentage. Due to the attention surrounding Robert Mugabe's daughters her family enlisted the help of a female ex-government official to provide safety and supervision during her time in Hong Kong.
According to Vice chairperson of the HK democratic party Emily Lau said the government should study whether to follow international practice in barring certain foreign politicians as many people might be looking at buying properties, investments or education in Hong Kong.Lee Wing-tat said Beijing should be making the decision since this was a foreign affair.
Spokesperson Jiang Yu from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China said she was not aware of the Mugabes' alleged house purchase in Hong Kong and would not comment further.A professor at the University of HK said Beijing was trying to stay out of the controversy.The Beijing central government dismissed the concerns, adding that Falun Gong members were allowed to buy properties in Hong Kong.
Controversy ensued when Grace Mugabe was given a doctoral degree in sociology in September 2014 from the University of Zimbabwe two months after entering the program. She was awarded the degree by her husband and University Chancellor Robert Mugabe. Her doctoral thesis is not available in the University archive and she has faced calls to return her PhD.This caused backlash in the Zimbabwean academic community, with some commenting that this could harm the reputation of the University.
The Times reported on 18 January 2009 that, while on a shopping trip in Hong Kong, where her daughter Bona Mugabe was a university student, Mugabe ordered her bodyguard to assault a Sunday Times photographer Richard Jones outside her luxury hotel. She then joined in the attack, punching Jones repeatedly in the face while wearing diamond encrusted rings, causing him cuts and abrasions. She was subsequently granted immunity from prosecution 'under Chinese diplomatic rules' because of her status as Mugabe's wife.
In August 2017, while visiting South Africa to treat an ankle injury, she is said to have assaulted a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels who was in the company of her two younger sons, Robert Jr. and Chatunga, at a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.It is alleged that Grace hit one of the women with an extension cord, causing head injuries including a deep gash on her forehead.
This was after accusing them of living with her sons Robert Jr and Chatunga. After charges were laid for "assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm", Grace was due to appear at a Johannesburg court on 15 August 2017, but failed or refused to appear; she was subsequently granted diplomatic immunity and swiftly went back to Harare.