Reports on Tuesday were stating that Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe had voluntarily handed herself over to South African police relating to assault charges laid by 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels. It turns out Mugabe left for home later that day, unscathed by the law, where she is now facing severe criticism from the country's opposition party.

Grace Mugabe had said she would report to the police but didn't

The BBC is reporting that it is not clear why Mugabe did not hand herself over to the South African police after stating she would do so.

Officials said yesterday that negotiations were underway with Mugabe’s lawyers to persuade the First Lady to hand herself in. Police said at one stage that she had done so and would be appearing in court over the alleged assault. However police sources later said while Mugabe had reportedly agreed to hand herself over to authorities, she failed to do so.

Meanwhile, reporters stood waiting outside the Randburg court on Tuesday for Mugabe to appear but were apparently disappointed.

At a time when Mugabe was expected to face justice for allegedly assaulting Engels in a Sandton hotel with an electrical extension cord, it turns out she flew out of South Africa and returned home to Harare in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean government sources have confirmed to Reuters that Mugabe was back in Zimbabwe and that they “don’t know” where the issue of assault charges came from.

Opposition slams Grace Mugabe for her actions

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s main opposition, as well as other pro-democracy groups have slammed the incident.

Obert Gutu, an MDC spokesperson, said in a statement that Mugabe is well known for her explosive temperament, especially when dealing with people she perceives to be powerless. Gutu said she is notorious for “abrasive and thuggish behavior” which is inconsistent with her standing as First Lady of Zimbabwe. Gutu said Mugabe has behaved in this manner on more than one occasion and needs to be brought to order and to understand she is not a “law unto herself.” Gutu added that the incident has severely tarnished Zimbabwe’s international standing and that the act of violence is a “gross and unmitigated diplomatic scandal.”

Mugabe had been visiting South Africa for treatment to an injured foot from a recent accident in Harare and was spending time with her sons, who are studying in South Africa, in Sandton.

Reportedly after the news was received of the assault, hotel management is believed to have forced Mugabe and her sons to leave the hotel. As reported by News24, it is unclear which airline Mugabe used to leave South Africa, but aviation sources are claiming she left from Swartkop Air Force Base, for Charles Prince Airport.

Zimbabwean media slams assault victim

According to Engels, she had been introduced to Mugabe’s son Bellarmine Chatunga by a mutual friend the day before the assault. She and a friend were visiting the two sons at the Sandton hotel when the assault happened. Mugabe allegedly accused Engels of living with her sons before beating her severely around the head with the extension cord, while bodyguards stood by and watched.

Zimbabwean media has slammed Engels, saying alternatively that she is in love with one of Mugabe’s sons or that she was a prostitute.

She has denied dating either of the Mugabe brothers and stated categorically that she is “not a hooker.” There were also claims that Engels had assaulted Mugabe.