Does Grace Mugabe have diplomatic immunity or not? Experts weigh in

Grace Mugabe will avoid prosecution for allegedly whacking 20-year-old Gabriella Engels inside a South African hotel on Sunday night for hanging out with the First Lady's two sons.

Officers said Mrs Mugabe is still in South Africa, following a day of intense speculation over her whereabouts after a 20-year-old woman accused the wife of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe of assault.

South African media quoted DIRCO spokesman, Clayson Monyela, saying Grace could not claim diplomatic immunity if she was in the country on personal business.

Mugabe had been due to appear in court on Tuesday under a deal struck with authorities but failed to turn up, police said.

She said other worldwide conventions could overrule the South African law's interpretation of diplomatic immunity.

Ms Engels claims that while socialising with Ms Mugabe's two sons - Robert and Chatunga - in a Johannesburg hotel last Sunday, Zimbabwe's first lady entered their room and whipped her with an electrical extension cord, leaving a deep gash on her forehead.

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"Secondly, as a first lady, she's not part of government or a government official".

He said Ms Engels had been phoned on Thursday morning by the investigating officer, who told her police will now apply for a warrant for Mrs Mugabe's arrest.

Engels' mother, Debbie, said she was convinced that Grace was not going to find it easy to escape the charges levelled against her.

On Friday, the state-owned Airports Co. of South Africa blocked an evening Air Zimbabwe flight to Harare after authorities asked for the airline's foreign operators permit.

"She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug".

It also said that it would fight any move to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

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Nicknamed "The Pitbull" for his combative style in the blockbuster Pistorius trial, he also said detectives had told Engels they were seeking an arrest warrant for Mugabe.

"They made an offer and said, 'Let us talk, this will go away.'".

That speculation does little to help her in the eyes of South Africa's ministry of worldwide relations, though.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel says although there has been no threat to Engels' life, they have offered to provide her with security.

Harare has made no official comment on the saga and requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered.

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

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