The news broke early on Tuesday that Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe had physically assaulted a 20-year-old South African model she found in hotel room with her sons.
The South African police say Mrs. Mugabe attacked Gabriella Engels, repeatedly hitting her with an extension cord, after discovering her in a posh Johannesburg hotel with her sons Robert JR, 25, and Chatunga, 21, on Sunday night.
Gabriella sustained multiple injuries from the encounter, including a deep gash on her forehead and several bruises all over her body. In a twitter post, the Johannesburg based-model said she hardly stood a chance, as the Zimbabwean First Lady was surrounded by no less than 10 body guards while the attack lasted.
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Mrs. Mugabe was reportedly in South Africa to have her foot examined following a freak accident, while the Mugabe children live in Johannesburg where they attend school.
It is unclear what provoked the assault, but unconfirmed reports say the model was partying the night away with the Mugabe children, who never hesitate to live up to their reputation as decadent playboys, spoilt rotten by their Zimbabwean dictator father.
By her actions, Mrs. Mugabe flagrantly broke the law in another African country — something she would never dare do in Europe or America — and then she took the match for gender equality several years backwards when she chose to blame a woman like herself for the indiscretion of her adult sons.
Like any mother, Grace Mugabe has every right to sanction the kind of company her children keep, but by absolving her sons of any wrongdoing while lashing out at the model, the First Lady propagated the sexism that so often turns around to blame women for misconduct of the men, including rape and physical assault.
Reports say the Mugabe children used to live in Dubai, but had to flee the Emirates, after running foul of the Islamic country’s strict laws banning the use of alcohol and hard drugs.
Ironically, only last month, President Robert Mugabe presented a cash gift of $60,000 to the First Lady’s elder sister, who raised his children in appreciation of a job well done.
It is however not surprising to find the Mugabe children repeatedly on the wrong side of the law; their power hungry mother has little or no regard for constituted authority. Last December, she disobeyed a court order when she ordered her goons to seize three Harare properties belonging to a Lebanese businessman.
Indeed, her lust for power is only surpassed by her appetite for luxury. ‘Gucci Grace’, as she is derisively known, once spent an astonishing $120,000 on a shopping trip to Paris in 2003.
At 52, Grace Mugabe is married to a man nearly 4 decades older. Her husband, President Mugabe is 93, the oldest president in the world. Increasingly frail and in poor health, he clearly does not have have much time remaining.
Desperate to succeed her husband as president, Mrs. Mugabe can’t wait for him to die off, and she can barely hide her impatience. She has repeatedly pressed her husband in full public glare to name a successor, while relentlessly positioning herself as the anointed candidate.
However, the sheer impunity that would characterize a government with Mrs. Mugabe at the helm of affairs, is better imagined than experienced, and Zimbabweans everywhere must do everything that they can to avert what is a disaster waiting to happen.