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Grace Mugabe kept cops waiting 'all day': Mothiba

16 August 2017 - 16:51 By Babalo Ndenze‚ Jan Bornman And Nhlalo Ndaba
Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service‚ Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba. File photo
Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service‚ Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba. File photo
Image: Supplied

Acting police commissioner Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba has explained how Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe gave police the slip on Tuesday as details of diplomatic talks emerged.

Mothiba was addressing a portfolio committee in Parliament on Tuesday in which he as asked about the ongoing impasse between the police and Mugabe’s lawyers‚ after she was accused of assaulting a 20-year old woman on Sunday night.

Mothiba said police had waited all day on Tuesday for Mugabe to hand herself over‚ but she was a no show.

"On the issue of Mrs Mugabe‚ honourable chairperson‚ the whole thing happened around Sunday but the matter was only brought to the attention of SAPS on Monday in the afternoon and our provincial commissioner in Gauteng put a team to look for her and she had booked out of the hotel where she was staying with her sons‚” Mothiba said.

The alleged assault had taken place at the Capital 20 West in Sandton. The alleged victim Gabriella Engels‚ said Mugabe had beat her with an electrical extension cord.

“Sunday evening we got a call that she would hand herself over. The whole of yesterday we were waiting for her. Her lawyers arrived at Sandton police station around six o'clock‚” Mothiba said.

“They said that they would be coming to plead that she has diplomatic immunity‚ but we were supported by NDPP Adv Shaun Abrahams and his provincial head. Our position was that she must go to court. Whole day yesterday we were waiting for her."

Meanwhile the police ministry released a statement indicating that the Zimbabwean government has officially gotten involved in negotiations.

In the statement Fikile Mbalula’s office says Mugabe had “made arrangements acceptable to SAPS that she would present herself to” police in Sandton.

“The time scheduled was changed several times. By end of business yesterday she had failed to present herself as arranged. Her attorneys and government of Zimbabwe representatives did arrive at the Police Station in Sandton for channels of cooperation‚” the statement said.

Mbalula’s office said Mugabe was meant to give a warning statement before a docket was presented to the NPA for a decision whether to prosecute or not.

“The suspect’s lawyers and her government representatives made verbal representations to SAPS investigators that the suspect wished to invoke diplomatic immunity cover and thus she elected to change her mind about the warning statement‚” the statement said.

Mbalula’s office said the Zimbabwean government has since dispatched an official diplomatic note invoking diplomatic immunity.

“The suspect remains in South Africa and has not departed the Republic‚ we are advised her itinerary includes amongst private matters her attendance and participation at the scheduled SADC Heads of States/Governments Summit and Bi-lateral Diplomatic Meetings already underway in Pretoria. Discussions with the suspect’s lawyers and the Zimbabwean High Commission representatives are taking place to make sure that the suspects is processed through the legal system‚” the ministry said.

Sources in Zimbabwe have told TimesLIVE that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be arriving in South Africa on Wednesday‚ two days earlier than scheduled. He is attending the SADC event in Pretoria.