The mother of the model who laid charges of assault against Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe, said the case was not about money.
Debbie Engels said: “I just want justice for my daughter. It’s not about money. It’s about justice. She attacked my child for no reason.”
Her daughter, 20-year-old Gabriella, was almost teary while listening attentively as others spoke on her behalf. She was not allowed to speak to avoid “trial by the media” and jeopardising her case against Zimbabwe’s first lady.
The full-time model was at a media briefing in Centurion, hosted by civil rights organisation AfriForum, to announce that advocate Gerrie Nel would be representing her in her bid for justice.
It was also disclosed that a blank cheque was allegedly offered on behalf of the Zimbabwean first lady to persuade her to drop charges, but she rejected it.
The model laid criminal charges against Mugabe this week, after claiming the first lady of Zimbabwe assaulted her when she found her with her sons at an apartment in Sandton.
Gabriella had a huge bandage on her forehead where Mugabe allegedly hit her with an electric plug. Images of her showing a gash on her head have been circulating on social media since the beginning of the week.
Nel confirmed that financial compensation “by a third party” had been offered. He would not be drawn into divulging the names behind the offer.
“No one is above the law and we should demonstrate that,” said Nel. “If the case goes to court and Mugabe is convicted, a jail sentence could be possible,” Nel added.
Police said they had been keeping tabs on Mugabe to ensure that she did not leave the country, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said.
Mbalula said there was no way President Robert Mugabe’s wife could leave South Africa before clearing her name in the matter.
“I can say to you, the matter is receiving our attention and we are liaising with all involved in the matter of the suspect (Grace Mugabe) who was supposed to appear in court but did not.
“In this particular instance, we as the SAPS have already put tabs in the borders in relation to her leaving the country so there is no question about that. The red alert has been put,” Mbalula told reporters.
“She is not somebody who has been running away, from what she said. In fact she has her own version of the events… It’s not up to us to engage with that. It is for our investigators who have the case to engage with her to come and answer in relation to this matter. It is our commitment.”
Mbalula said the matter of Mugabe was different from that of “somebody else” because she has sought to invoke diplomatic immunity.
“If it was somebody else, in relation with being a suspect… we could have long moved and raided on her in terms of the issues,” said Mbalula.
He commended the police for being in control of the case since the allegations of assault emerged against Mugabe.
“My job as a minister is to ensure that our citizens are protected without fear or favour, and that is what I must enforce.”