Jean-Jacques Cornish

Mugabe assault victim allegedly offered a blank cheque to drop charges

Police Minister Fikile Mbalule says law enforcement officials have been put on red alert to stop Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe from leaving South Africa.

The South-African-born second wife of President Robert Mugabe allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old woman she  found in a Johannesburg hotel room with her sons on Sunday.

Mugabe himself has  arrived in South Africa to attend a regional summit. His wife is seeking diplomatic immunity.

With a plaster covering a wound that’s received 14 stitches on her forehead, 20-year-old model and nightclub hostess Gabriella Engels remained silent as members of a right-wing civil rights group Afriforum said they were representing her legally.

Afriforum CEO Kallie Kriel says Engels was offered a blank cheque from the Mugabe family to drop the charge she’s laid against the first lady of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Engels has rejected the offer.

Former top prosecutor Gerrie Nel – the man who led the State’s case against paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend – has been engaged by Afriforum.

Nel says they’ll initiate a private prosecution if the State fails to act against Mugabe.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalule says police cannot arrest Grace Mugabe, who’s sheltering in a Johannesburg mansion,  until the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has ruled on her application for diplomatic immunity.

Meanwhile all borders are being closely watched to prevent the first lady  leaving Siyth Africa.

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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.