Zimbabwe's first lady says model attacked her with knife

The 52-year-old wife of president Robert Mugabe also accused the model of attacking her with a knife and being "intoxicated and unhinged".

Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe, has denied assaulting a South African model with an electric cable in a Johannesburg hotel suite last month.

Mrs. Mugabe also accused Gabriella Engels of attacking her with a knife and being "intoxicated and unhinged".

In a previously unreported statement seen by Reuters, Mrs Mugabe painted herself as the victim of last month's incident in a Johannesburg hotel suite and said she was considering filing attempted murder charges.

Mrs Mugabe claimed she had been worried about her adult sons Chatunga and Robert Junior who were "in trouble with a drunken young woman" in a different room.

“She was worried about them and went to see them at their hotel suite,’’ the statement said.

“Upon her arrival, Ms. Engels, who was intoxicated and unhinged, attacked Dr. Grace Mugabe with a knife after she was asked to leave the hotel.

“Security was left with no other option but to remove Ms. Engels from the hotel suite,’’ it continued.

Engel however rubbished the allegations saying an irate Mugabe burst into the room where she was waiting with two friends to meet Chatunga on Aug. 13 and started laying into her with an electric cable.

Photographs taken by Engels’ mother soon after the incident showed gashes to the model’s head. She also had bruising on her thighs.

Mrs Mugabe's statement alleged that Ms Engels might have sustained the injuries in a fight with other women at the city's Taboo nightclub the previous evening.

But those claims were denied by Afriforum, an Afrikaans civil society group acting on the model's behalf.

"Gabriella never attacked Grace Mugabe in any way and she did not participate in the fight at Taboo," Afriforum said.

"It is clear that Grace Mugabe is desperately trying to escape responsibility for her own violent behaviour by using lies to falsely portray the victim in this case as the perpetrator."

Mrs Mugabe, who is one of the favourites to succeed her 93-year-old husband if and when he steps down as president, dismissed Ms Engels' version as "malicious allegations" and said she had been attacked after going to help her sons.

South Africa granted Mrs. Mugabe diplomatic immunity, allowing her to evade immediate prosecution for assault.Ms. Engels and Afriforum have however challenged that decision, saying Zimbabwe’s first lady was not in South Africa on official business.

They also argued that assault was a “grave crime” that was not covered by diplomatic immunity laws.

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