No Grace Mugabe as SADC summit opens in Pretoria

Pretoria - Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe was not among the first spouses that arrived a few minutes ahead of the opening of the Southern African Development Community summit in Pretoria on Saturday.

Several other first ladies arrived at the summit and were seated on separate seats in the front, apart from their husbands. The programme, which started an hour and a half late, features a "first spouses programme", set to start at noon.

Officials, however, refused to comment on what this programme involved or if it would still be taking place.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, moving slowly, was the last of the heads of state attending the summit to walk into the conference hall at the Department of International Relations headquarters, and he was seated near the entrance. He also got a slightly louder applause than his colleagues when his name was announced.

Grace was expected to attend the SADC summit following an incident earlier in the week where she was alleged to have assaulted a 20-year-old model with an extension chord at a Johannesburg hotel where her sons were staying.

Grace has not appeared in a court yet on the charge, and there was speculation that she might be granted diplomatic immunity. 

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