Top lawyer to take case against Zimbabwe’s first lady

PRETORIA

A leading South African prosecutor said Thursday he is ready to offer legal assistance to the woman accusing Zimbabwe's first lady of assault.

Gerrie Nel, who resigned from public prosecutions earlier this year, is respected for successfully prosecuting Paralympian Oscar Pistorius for murder.

We want to see equality before the law, Nel said at a media briefing in Pretoria convened by his new employer AfriForum, a civil rights group that lobbies for the rights of minorities.

The group said if the National Prosecuting Authority does not act within three months, they will take the option of private prosecution against Grace Mugabe.

Twenty-year-old South African model Gabriella Engels is accusing Grace Mugabe, 52, of assaulting her Sunday with an electrical cord that left her with injuries on her forehead and the back of her head.

Engels said the assault happened when she and a friend were at an upscale hotel in Johannesburg's

Sandton district to visit Mugabe's adult sons Robert and Chatunga.

Nel claimed at the briefing that a third party had approached Engels and offered her money to drop charges against Mugabe.

Engels and her mother were present at the media briefing. The model had a bandage on her forehead.

I can now sleep a little bit more peacefully knowing that I have people that are going to help me fight for justice for my daughter, said Debbie Engels.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier this week told reporters the first lady had turned herself in to police and would appear in court. But Mugabe was a no-show at the Randburg Magistrates Court, where she was due to answer assault charges.

South African police said Wednesday the Zimbabwean government had sought diplomatic immunity for the first lady.

Police said Thursday they had issued a red alert at the country's borders for Mugabe not to leave the country.

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Source: Anadolu Agency