The 20-year-old South African model who was allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly been offered a bribe to make the case "go away".
The move to ground the Air Zimbabwe aircraft, a Boeing 767 used by President Robert Mugabe when he flew to South Africa on Wednesday to attend the 37th SADC Heads of State Summit, and Zimbabwe's swift tit-for-tat response, has added a new strain to relations between the two countries.
Engels on Monday opened a case of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the Sandton police station‚ and Mugabe was widely thought to be appearing in court on Tuesday.
Grace Mugabe came to South Africa for medical treatment for an injured foot, nearly certainly invalidating her claims to diplomatic immunity, legal experts said.
"Secondly‚ as a first lady‚ she's not part of government or a government official".
The alleged beatdown left Engels with a nasty gash on her forehead that required 14 stitches.
I will also be writing to both the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, and the Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, to urge them in the strongest terms to issue a warrant of arrest against Ms Mugabe. "Over and over", Engels said.
The debate over whether Mugabe should be granted immunity quickly took on a political dimension in South Africa, with the opposition Democratic Alliance calling on the President Jacob Zuma's cabinet to ensure Mugabe is brought to justice.
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"We have made the offer to give her protection, but for security details I don't want to go too much into detail".
"We are not preparing an arrest warrant yet", the source said.
She failed to appear and the next day the police ministry announced this was because she and the Zimbabwean government had chose to invoke diplomatic immunity.
South Africa's foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Cathleen Powell, a senior public law lecturer at the University of Cape Town, explained that legally, the first lady has no grounds got justification as she was not an accredited diplomat and couldn't claim immunity.
Requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered.
South Africa's government said it had not yet decided whether to grant the request for diplomatic immunity.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with his wife Grace Mugabe during a rally at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on June 2, 2017.
For Debbie Engels, the only issue is getting Grace Mugabe to face the law. In 2009 a photographer in Hong Kong alleged that she and her bodyguard had assaulted him.