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Model was offered cash to make Grace Mugabe assault ‘go away’

On the right, Gabriella Engels

Centurion, South Africa | AFP |The 20-year-old South African model that Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe is alleged to have assaulted was offered cash to make potential charges “go away”, a lawyer said Thursday.

Police have said they were also on high alert to make sure that the 52-year-old wife of President Robert Mugabe does not skip the country, with an arrest warrant reportedly being considered.

The first lady is alleged to have hit Gabriella Engels on Sunday at a Johannesburg hotel.

Engels said she suffered deep cuts to her forehead and the back of her head and has opened a police case alleging assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. She appeared at a press conference Thursday, wearing a large plaster on the left side of her forehead.

Her “family has been approached by a third party to accept an amount of money to settle this” said Gerrie Nel, the advocate best known for his prosecution of fallen athlete Oscar Pistorius.

They were told “let us talk and this can go away. There was no amount mentioned,” said Nel, flanked by Engels and her mother.

“The family is not interested in doing this,” added Nel, who became famous for leading the prosecution of Paralympian Pistorius who in 2015 was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend.

South African police have said Grace Mugabe, who was in the country to have her ankle checked following a freak accident at Harare airport last month, is seeking diplomatic immunity.

Her two sons were staying at the hotel where the assault is alleged to have taken place.

A “red alert” has also been put out at the country’s borders, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters.

Nel said an officer investigating the case had told Engels on Thursday that “they would now apply for a warrant” (of arrest).

Nel was speaking on behalf of AfriForum, a pro-Afrikaner civil rights organisation which helps victims of crime and has vowed to help Engels seek justice.

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