Harare- A group of prominent Zimbabwean political activists on Wednesday apologised to South Africans following the recent assault of a 20 year-old model at a Sandton hotel by President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace.
This came at a time when the Zimbabwean First Lady was yet to make any public pronouncements regarding the issue.
The Zimbabwean First Lady allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels with an extension cord and severely injured her after she found her in the company of one of her two sons living and learning in South Africa, Bellarmine Chatunga. The Mugabe brothers were known for their notoriety and lavish spending.
The group, calling itself "Vana veDzimbabwe" or Children of Zimbabwe, submitted the letter of apology at the South African embassy in Harare.
"We as children of this land do hereby submit this apology to the people of South Africa for the assault of South African citizen Gabriella Engels by the wife of our president, First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe on the 13th of August 2017," read part of the letter.
"On behalf of our nation and her people, we want you to know that we are deeply ashamed at this unfortunate incident. It is our natural, moral and religious conviction that violence is abhorrent and not a good solution to any issue where dialogue and mediation are possible."
Meanwhile, some four other pro-democracy groups also petitioned the South African High Commission challenging the credibility of the diplomatic immunity given to the Zimbabwean First Lady by South African authorities following her assault of the model.
Grace was yet to appear in public following her attack of Engels.
The four organisations, namely United Citizens Alliance, National Election Reform Agenda Youth Forum, Zimbabwe Vote 2018 and the Concerned Citizens Network said Gabriella should receive sufficient remedy for the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment she received from Grace Mugabe".
"We as citizens feel very unsafe with such kind of a mother, who fails to control her tempers in public domain. Having been on a medical visit to South Africa, Grace Mugabe automatically was not worth receiving immunity," said Joelson Mugari, chairperson of the United Citizens Alliance.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu told News24 that Engels, who claimed that she was offered an undisclosed sum of money by the Zimbabwean First Lady for her to drop the assault charges but opted to pursue the legal route, was now a victim of diplomatic relations between Pretoria and Harare.
"Sacrificing diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa was never an option and the victim becomes a victim at the altar of diplomacy," said Mukundu.
This was not the first time that Grace Mugabe assaulted a foreign national outside Zimbabwe. In 2009, the Zimbabwean First Lady assaulted British journalist Richard Jones in Hong Kong and evaded arrest when she was granted diplomatic immunity.