Jean-Jacques Cornish

Is Grace Mugabe now considered a fugitive in South Africa?

Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe is back in Harare after being accused of assaulting a woman in Johannesburg.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula incorrectly told reporters Mugabe had handed herself over to South African authorities.

Police are now saying that no warrant of arrest has been issued against Mugabe.

Grace Mugabe allegedly assaulted 20 year Gabriella Engels with an electrical extension cable on Sunday after finding the woman, who is described as a model, in an upmarket Sandton hotel room with her sons Robert and Chatunga.

Engels laid charges and told reporters she did not know the men in the room were Robert Mugabe’s sons.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said the First Lady was cooperating in the matter and had turned herself into authorities, insisting that she would be charged

Reporters rushed to the Randburg magistrates’ court where Mbalula  told them Grace Mugabe would appear.

A police source said she would be charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The court closed for the day without this happening and police spokesman Vish Naidoo said no arrest warrant had been issued against Mugabe.

He would respond to reporters questions about whether Mugabe was now considered a fugitive in South Africa.

Authorities in Zimbabwe dismissed the incident as a media attempt to tarnish the first family.

Mugabe was in South Africa for medical treatment to her foot after what is described as a freak accident.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.