|22. August 2017
Grace Mugabe back in Zimbabwe
Grace Mugabe is back in Zimbabwe after she was granted diplomatic immunity by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) over the weekend.
Grace was in the media the whole of last week after she allegedly assaulted a South African model, Gabriella Engels, using an extension cord while her bodyguards looked on. This was after she allegedly found Gabriella with one of her sons, Bellarmine Chatunga at a hotel in the leafy suburb of Sandton.
Grace was granted diplomatic immunity despite calls by a South African legal group, Afriforum, and protesters for her not to be allowed to leave the country.
Of course the development came as a surprise, as many South Africans and indeed some in Zimbabwe had kept their fingers crossed, hoping she was going to face justice.
Grace’s sons, Robert Jnr and Bellarmine Chatunga, who are learning in South Africa are known for notoriety and lavish lifestyles. The duo was recently kicked out of an apartment block in the leafy Sandton after they reportedly engaged in "unacceptable behaviour" that left a security officer at the block with a broken leg and arm, prompting Grace to fly to South Africa to organise alternative accommodation for them.
In the latest case, Grace had allegedly used her medical trip to South Africa to also see her children at the Capitol 20 West hotel in Sandton when this incident happened. Her husband had told a rally in Gwanda, about 500km south-west of the capital Harare, that she had gone to South Africa for a doctor’s review after her leg was injured in a freak accident at the Harare International Airport.
Indeed reports on Sunday morning that Grace had arrived in Zimbabwe alongside her husband from a SADC summit in Pretoria was received with anger by Zimbabwe’s main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which described Dirco’s decision as "regrettable".
"Grace Mugabe is a violent, crude, uncouth and disgraceful character. It is very unfortunate that South Africa decided to grant her diplomatic immunity," the MDC’s spokesperson Obert Gutu was quoted as saying, soon after the news of Grace’s arrival in Harare.
What surprised many, however, was the "silent stance" that the Zimbabwean media, in particular the state-owned newspaper (The Herald and the Chronicle), and the state broadcaster ZBC took, as Grace’s story continued to unfold last week.
One of the reasons given by some journalists was that they were waiting for "an official confirmation". But again, that confirmation was hard to come by, as the authorities chose to remain mum on the matter.