18/08/2017 06:51 SAST | Updated 18/08/2017 06:52 SAST

"Red Alert" Issued For Grace Mugabe At Country's Borders

It is believed that the Zimbabwean first lady is still in the country.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Gabriella Engels, who claims to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe, arrives for a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa's borders have been put on "red alert" by police to prevent Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe, from skipping the country, TimesLive reported.

Mugabe is accused of assaulting a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels, with an extension cord at a Sandton hotel over the weekend. She has requested diplomatic immunity in the case and is believed to still be in the country.

Police minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday that a red alert had been issued against her.

"We had already put tabs on the borders, in relation to her leaving the country, so there's no question about that," he said.

Also on Thursday, Afriforum announced its intentions to support Engels legally in the case. Afriforum's advocate Gerrie Nel said they will pursue a private prosecution if the NPA declines to prosecute Mugabe.

Nel said he believed Mugabe was still in the country, as Engels had been contacted by the investigating officer in the case, who said an arrest warrant was being prepared for Mugabe.

But Reuters reported that a senior police source said this was not the case, yet.

"We are not preparing an arrest warrant yet," the source said. "Our investigations were completed but before we could take the next step, the suspect applied to invoke diplomatic immunity. We are waiting the outcome before we can move on to the next step."

Mbalula echoed a similar sentiment when he said the issue was not being handled by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).

According to News24, he said: "There has been an exchange since the day I announced she would appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court, which was an agreement, she didn't appear up until the point now, where issues of immunity must be attended to."