Grace Mugabe Is Accused of Assault at Johannesburg Hotel


Grace Mugabe, wife of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, voluntarily reported to the South African police over an alleged assault. She has been married to Mr. Mugabe for more than two decades, and has emerged in recent years as a political force in her own right.

Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG — Grace Mugabe, the wife of the president of Zimbabwe, appeared voluntarily at a police station in South Africa on Tuesday after she was accused of assaulting a young woman at an upscale Johannesburg hotel Sunday night, the South African police minister said.

Ms. Mugabe, 52, was not placed under arrest “because she cooperated and handed herself over,” Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said in a video posted on the website eNCA, which added that she was scheduled to appear in court later on Tuesday.

Gabriella Engels, 20, has accused Ms. Mugabe of assaulting her while she was visiting Ms. Mugabe’s sons in a hotel room, and has said that Ms. Mugabe’s bodyguards stood by and watched.

Engels posted several photos on social media showing a gash in her forehead that she said was caused by Ms. Mugabe. “I had no clue who this woman was when she started beating me,” Ms. Engels told a local radio station, 702.

Ms. Mugabe has been married to Robert Mugabe, the longtime president of Zimbabwe, for more than 20 years. She was once perhaps best known for ostentatious shopping trips overseas. In 2009 she was accused by a freelance photographer of repeatedly hitting him in the face when he tried to take photographs of her while she was shopping in Hong Kong; she was granted diplomatic immunity.

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She has since emerged as a political force in her own right alongside Mr. Mugabe, who is 93, the world’s oldest head of state and the only leader Zimbabwe has known since its independence in 1980.

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