Police on 'red alert' to prevent Grace Mugabe leaving SA

Mugabe is facing criminal charges after she allegedly assaulted Gabriela engels with an electric cord at a Sandton hotel on Sunday

FILE: Former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police have put out a "red alert" to prevent any attempt by Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe to leave the country.

Mugabe is facing criminal charges after she allegedly assaulted Gabriela Engels with an electric cord at a Sandton hotel on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean government has invoked diplomatic immunity and is now awaiting a response from the International Relation's Department.

The police ministry says it will not be arresting Mugabe until it receives an official indication from Dirco.

Minister Fikile Mbalula explains: "We, in terms of the South African police, we have already put tabs on the borders in relation to her leaving the country, so there's no question about that. We've also put out a red alert, so she's not someone who's been running away from what she said."

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe landed at Waterkloof Airforce Base on Wednesday night and he’s expected to intervene on the matter.

The Police Ministry’s Vuyo Mhaga says: “As soon as Dirco gives us an indication on the diplomatic immunity, we’ll then be able to brief South Africans on what’s happening and the police should be able to do their work.”

At the same time, Dirco has confirmed it’s received correspondence from the Zimbabwean government invoking diplomatic immunity for the first lady.

The exact whereabouts and the progress of the case against Mugabe have not been revealed amid speculation that President Jacob Zuma and his counterpart Mugabe may be holding discussions.

Her lawyers told authorities on Tuesday that she wished to invoke diplomatic immunity relating to the assault case against her and that’s why she failed to hand herself over.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela says the department has been in contact with the Zimbabwean government.

If immunity is granted, this will mark the second time Mugabe gets diplomatic protection over an assault case.

She allegedly assaulted a British photographer in Hong Kong in 1999, but no charges were brought against her.