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  1. ITV Report

Grace Mugabe to invoke diplomatic immunity over assault claims

Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, pictured in July Credit: PA

Grace Mugabe has requested diplomatic immunity over an allegation that she assaulted a young model.

Zimbabwe's first lady, who is still in South Africa, was accused of assaulting a a 20-year-old model in Johannesburg earlier this week.

The Zimbabwean government has asked for diplomatic immunity for a suspect involved in the assault, South Africa's police said in a statement on Wednesday.

But the police declined to name Mrs Mugabe in the case as she has not yet appeared in court.

Photos of Gabriella Engels posted on social media show a bloody gash to her head that she says was a result of the encounter.

Mrs Mugabe failed to present herself to police on Tuesday, sending her lawyers and Zimbabwe government representatives to negotiate with police over the handling of the case instead.

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Mrs Mugabe reportedly handed herself in to South African police over accusations that she attacked Gabriella Engels in a fit of rage, according to the local eNCA television station.

Ms Engels posted a photo of a deep gash to her forehead which she said was inflicted by Mugabe as her bodyguards looked on.

A spokesman for South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation told The Associated Press that the immunity request is under consideration.

Gabriella Engels Credit: Facebook/Gabriella Engels

Mrs Mugabe, 52, is understood to have got into an altercation with Ms Engels while in South Africa to get treatment for an ankle injury.

Ms Engels said that the Zimbabwean politician had flown into a rage after discovering her in the company of two of her sons, Robert Peter Mugabe Jr. and Chatunga Bellarmine Mugabe.

"My two friends and I were beat up in a room with 10+ men leaving her to do it," she wrote on Twitter.

"Rob jnr was put out of the hotel room and Bellermine ran away."

The model told News 24 that she had to "crawl out of the room" to escape.

Diplomatic immunity ensures diplomats are given safe passage and are not susceptible to prosecution under the host country's laws, but they can still be expelled.