In a long telephone interview, Gabriella Engels, who has accused Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe of assaulting her, paused and sounded shaken at times.
Giving her version of what happened, Ms Engels, 20, said she and four other people, two of whom were the sons of President Robert Mugabe and the first lady, had been “having pre-drinks” on Sunday night in a hotel room in Sandton, a plush suburb in Johannesburg.
She then went into another room and Mrs Mugabe walked in looking for her sons.
“She [Mrs Mugabe] had a black extension cord in her hand… She cornered me and started beating the hell out of me. I had to roll myself down to get away from her, that’s when she hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck,” Ms Engels alleged.
I asked Ms Engels what was going through her mind at that point.
“I was just thinking, I have to get out of this hotel room right now before this woman kills me.”
“The only people that were in the room with us were her bodyguards and they were standing back while she was beating us. We were begging her to stop hitting us, but she didn’t want to, she just… She hit us with so much hate. Like, I don’t understand why she attacked us like that. ‘Til this day my friends and I don’t understand why this woman attacked us the way she did for no reason at all,” Ms Engels said.
She told me she did not know it was Mrs Mugabe until a security guard who helped her to “escape from the room” told her.
“Before I even knew who she was I knew I had to lay an assault charge because I was injured so badly. I didn’t care who the person was. And when I found out who she was, I didn’t want to go lay a charge against her… but my mother pushed me to go lay the charge, because she told me: ‘What this woman did was not right. We can’t allow her to get away with it’,” Ms Engels said.
The 20-year-old also said: “I would be very happy if she could go to jail, that’s…that’s my main focus right now.”
Mrs Mugabe has not commented on the allegations.