Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe failed to appear Saturday at a summit in South Africa attended by her husband, an event overshadowed by her effort to obtain diplomatic immunity over assault allegations.
The wife of President Robert Mugabe has not been seen since being accused of attacking a 20-year-old model with a electrical extension cord last weekend in a Johannesburg hotel where the couple’s two sons were staying.
The case has become a media spectacle, with protesters gathered outside the summit, some brandishing placards that read “Grace, disgrace.”
The alleged assault is a political headache for South Africa and Zimbabwe, close neighbours with deep economic and historical ties.
The matter also appears to have spilled into aviation, with South African Airways abruptly announcing that it was halting flights to and from Zimbabwe in a decision that followed flights being cancelled overnight after a dispute over permits, officials said.
Police had said Grace Mugabe was expected at the two-day Southern African Development Community meeting that opened with a “first spouses programme”.
But the 52-year-old wife of Zimbabwe’s leader was not among the first ladies in reserved seating at the foot of the platform where several heads of state spoke. Her husband, 93, in a black suit and beige scarf, was among eight regional leaders present. (AFP)