Veteran Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe arrived in South Africa, state media said on Thursday, for a regional summit overshadowed by accusations his wife assaulted a 20-year-old model in a Johannesburg hotel room with an electric cable.
Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper, the government’s main mouthpiece, said 93-year-old Mugabe arrived at a military air base near Pretoria.
The Herald made no mention of the controversy swirling around his 52-year-old wife Grace, who has applied for diplomatic immunity to protect herself from possible assault charges, according to South African police.
Debbie Engels, the mother of the alleged victim, Gabriella, told Reuters her daughter had 14 stitches on her head from Sunday’s assault – which the mother did not witness – and demanded Mugabe face justice.
She showed Reuters photographs taken hours after the incident showing gashes on Gabriella’s forehead and the back of her head. Another picture, taken on Wednesday, showed a large, livid bruise on her thigh.
“I just want justice for my daughter. It’s not about money. It’s about justice. She attacked my child for no reason,” she said.
Reuters has not been able to verify key aspects of the assault allegations independently.
There has been no official comment from Harare and requests for comment from Mugabe’s spokesman and Information Minister Chris Mushowe have gone unanswered.
Reuters has also been unable to identify Grace Mugabe’s lawyers in South Africa. Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Pretoria, Isaac Moyo, also declined to name them or provide comment.