Twenty-year-old Gabriella Engels claims that the 52-year-old Grace Mugabe attacked her with an extension cord in a luxury hotel in a Johannesburg suburb on Sunday evening.
She claims the first lady was in a hotel room with mutual friends of Mugabe's two sons, who live in Johannesburg, when the first lady burst into the room and assaulted her.
Pictures posted on social media after the alleged assault appeared to show a cut to Engels’ forehead. She claimed to have more injuries on the back of her head.
“We were chilling in a hotel room, and [the sons] were in the room next door. She came in and started hitting us. She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug, over and over,” Engels told local media.
The South African model said she had no clue who her attacker was until the alleged assault was over. She had “no idea what was going on … I was surprised. I had to crawl out of the room before I could run away,” she said.
Accusing the first lady’s bodyguards of standing by and watching during the alleged assault, Engels said: “The front of my forehead is busted open. I’m a model and I make my money based on my looks.”
Engels has been offered legal help by Gerrie Nel, a lawyer who prosecuted Oscar Pistorius for murder.
Nel told reporters there was a “possibility of political interference” in the case. He said diplomatic immunity could not be used to “escape prosecution from grave crimes”.
Mugabe has not commented on the allegations.
"I want to go to court because I really feel like she should go to jail for what she did to me," Engels said
The case has quickly assumed a political flavor, with South Africa's main opposition group warning President Jacob Zuma and his administration not to let Mugabe leave.
And lawyers working with the model say they will consider making an urgent application to South Africa's courts in the next few days, insisting that diplomatic immunity can't be used to "escape prosecution from grave crimes."
Zimbabwe’s first lady failed to appear in court to face accusation she assaulted 20-year-old woman at hotel in Johannesburg
Police in South Africa have issued a red alert to stop Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, from leaving the country after she was accused of assaulting a model at a hotel in Johannesburg.
The African News Agency (ANA) reported that South Africa’s police minister, Fikile Mbalula, had ordered border staff to prevent Mugabe from leaving until the matter was resolved.