Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Johannesburg - Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe yesterday made his first trip to South Africa since stepping down after a military coup last year that resulted in an abrupt end to his 37-year reign.

Travelling as an ordinary citizen on a flight from Zimbabwe bound for OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg, the former Zanu-PF leader was accompanied by about eight guards and a woman believed to be a nurse.

“One of the guards was on the phone talking about 'colleagues from Pretoria', a passenger who was on the same flight said.

It is thought that Mugabe is in the country to see his sons who live here, as well as to hold meetings with some of his long-time supporters.

The passenger on the flight also revealed that it had been delayed.

“The plane was supposed to leave Harare at 7am. We only boarded at 10am. No reasons were given. When we were to take off the captain announced that 'former president RG Mugabe' was on board,” he said.

The national Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Political Bureau