Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, has made her first public appearance since leaving South Africa, where she has been charged with assault.
The 52-year-old wife of Robert Mugabe, 93, a potential successor to the president, was granted diplomatic immunity and left South Africa on Sunday.
She was accused of attacking model Gabriella Engels, 20, who needed 14 stitches and said she feared the dictator’s wife was going to kill her.
Engels accused Mrs Mugabe of whipping her with an electric extension cable as she waited with two friends in a luxury hotel suite to meet one of the Mugabes’ adult sons.
But South Africa’s opposition is challenging the international relations minister’s decision to give her immunity – a move that could in theory affect any future plans to travel to the country.
The Mugabes attended a farming fair in Harare, where Mrs Mugabe was seen smiling and talking with exhibitors. She made no public comment.
Harare has made no official comment on the assault case and requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered.
South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has asked the Constitutional Court for permission to argue its case that Grace Mugabe’s diplomatic immunity be declared unconstitutional.
Devastated Gabriella, from Johannesburg, last week told MailOnline she was ‘furious’ at the thought that her attacker might never be held to account
‘Grace Mugabe is not a member of the Zimbabwean government and she was in South Africa on personal business,’ the party’s federal executive chairman, James Selfe, said.
‘There is nothing in either South African or international law which renders her deserving of diplomatic immunity.’
Selfe said the party hoped that if the immunity is lifted Mugabe would have to surrender herself to South African state prosecutors or be extradited to face the charges. If not she could be declared persona non grata, prohibited from visiting South Africa.
Advocacy group Afriforum has given legal backing to the alleged victim, Engels, and is working on the case with Gerrie Nel – the prosecutor who secured a murder conviction against Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius.
Devastated Gabriella, from Johannesburg, last week told MailOnline she was ‘furious’ at the thought that her attacker might never be held to account.
Eyewitnesses in the Zimbabwe capital reported seeing Mrs Mugabe’s motorcade speeding from the airport a few hours after she had been due to surrender to police.
‘I am scared she will never be held to account for what she did to me,’ Gabriella told MailOnline from the home she shares with her mother, Debbie.