Former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe File picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Johannesburg - Disgraced former first lady of Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe will not have her assault case dropped by simply applying for political asylum or refugee status in South Africa.

Grace Mugabe was accused of South African model Gabriella Engels with an electric cable in a Johannesburg hotel suite in August. 

According to Engels, an irate Mugabe burst into the room where she was waiting with two friends to meet Chatunga Mugabe and started laying into her with an electric cable.

On Wednesday, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) Luwellyn Landers said there was no indication that she or her husband had requested asylum.

Read: Engels attacked me with knife, #GraceMugabe claims in deposition

I hit her to protect myself - Grace Mugabe

Landers noted, however, that Grace’s assault case would still remain on the court roll in the event that asylum was granted.

He said the country’s courts were “fiercely” independent and that granting asylum would not have a bearing on any pending case.

Interest group AfriForum is pursuing a private prosecution against Grace, who left South Africa under controversial circumstances after being granted diplomatic immunity by Dirco.

Gabriella Engels, who was allegedly assaulted by Grace Mugabe. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/ANA

Briefing the international relations portfolio committee, Landers said: “At this point there is no indication (Robert Mugabe) or anyone else has requested asylum.”

Meanwhile, the ANC described Mugabe’s fall as a military coup.

On Wednesday, the party’s secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Mugabe’s political demise was as a result of an overthrow of a government engineered by the military - a coup.

Also read: 10 things we know about the #GraceMugabe saga

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The Zimbabwean crisis has left both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and sister liberation movements in a dilemma as they neither wanted to be seen to be against popular sentiments of Zimbabweans against Mugabe or be seen to be endorsing a military takeover.

Mantashe said the ANC had kept quiet on the Zimbabwean crisis as there was little information coming out of the country.

“Ours is not to celebrate this or that. We have taken the view that says we must continue respecting Mugabe for the role he played as a freedom fighter. We must continue supporting him for advocating Africa’s development programme and celebrate him as a pan-Africanist and the role he played over the last decade,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe commended what he called the restraint exercised by the citizens in that country as they took to the streets demanding Mugabe’s removal.

“Our view is that the fact that there was no obvious loss of life, damage to property, there were peaceful protests - to us it’s quite reassuring. We are hoping that our comrades in Zimbabwe will rebuild Zimbabwe to its former self,” Mantashe said.

In a signal of Pretoria warming up to the likely new leader of Zimbabwe, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was ousted by Mugabe, met with President Jacob Zuma in what was described as a courtesy visit before he returned home.

Mnangagwa has been in the country after he fled following his dismissal by Mugabe.

Mantashe said the ANC was worried about incidents that were unfolding in Zimbabwe, including the firing of senior party members by Mugabe.

The Star