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#GraceMugabeAssault: 'It’s not about money; it’s about justice'

The mother of the model who laid assault charges against Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe says the case is not about money. 
Debbie Engels said on Thursday: “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 Gabrielle, was almost in tears while listening attentively as others spoke on her behalf.
She was not allowed to speak to avoid “trial by media” and jeopardising her case against Mugabe.
The full-time model was at a media briefing in Centurion, hosted by civil rights organisation AfriForum at which it was announced 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 the model to drop the charges, but she rejected it.
The model laid criminal charges against Mugabe this week, after claiming Mugabe assaulted her when she found her with her sons at a flat in Sandton.
Gabrielle 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 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.
“The matter is receiving our attention. 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 on the borders in relation to her leaving the country there is no question about that. The red alert has been put (out),” Mbalula told reporters in Pretoria.
“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 and 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 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.
Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: AP
“My job as a minister is to ensure that our citizens are protected without fear or favour, and that is what I must enforce that our police execute.
"But equally, I don’t want them to bungle and to bring things into disrepute. Anybody who comes to South Africa must know that we are a constitutional state, and we are a law state. Nothing will just be left,” said Mbalula.
The question of Mugabe’s immunity was being attended to before the police move in, he said.
“It has come to our attention that it (the case of Grace Mugabe) might have not only immunity but diplomatic implications. From the perspective of the police we have done what we could.
"The matter is with the police who are handling the matter in relation to the case that has been opened. It is not just a case of an ordinary person. It has all those implications that must be attended to,” said Mbalula.
Robert Mugabe arrived in Pretoria on Wednesday night for the 37th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, amid the controversy surrounding his wife. He reportedly arrived earlier than scheduled so he could intervene in his wife’s matter.

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