The US embassy called for help as Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe went on a rampage at a luxury hotel in Joburg, a security report claims.
Mugabe’s violent attack on guests and staff at the Capital 20 West in Sandton caused a diplomatic crisis – and outrage in South Africa – but she was granted diplomatic immunity and allowed to leave the country without being prosecuted.
The Times has seen an official report on the incident, compiled by Aragon Security, whose officers responded last Sunday.
It reveals the scale of the rampage, directed at her sons, their friends and guests, and how hotel staff, security, armed response, police and a security company task team were summoned to deal with the chaos.
Photographs of the hotel rooms, accompanying the security report, show blood stains on bed linen, blood on floor tiles, a cupboard door ripped off its hinges, a broken chair, damaged door, bottles, drinking glasses, bedding and a plate of food on a table.
The report also reveals that there were more victims of the rampage than initially thought – including a woman who appears to have called the US embassy for assistance.
The report claims a senior manager at the Capital 20 West Hotel was contacted by an official from the US Embassy at about 11pm on the Sunday night of the attack.
The manager had informed an Aragon Security staff member that the embassy had told him about a woman stranded in a hotel room who “needed medical attention”.
“The lady who requested medical assistance had a cut on her chin but requested some time to get ready,” said the report.
A security officer and a senior manager had assisted the woman to leave via the fire escape and she was taken to the Morningside clinic near the hotel.
Garnet Basson, COO of the Capital Hotel Group, said he couldn’t disclose anything regarding the phone call from the US embassy. Cynthia Harvey, spokesman for the US Embassy in South Africa, said: “The embassy is not able to comment at this time.”
The report also alleged that police summoned to the drama instructed security officers not to touch the first lady or her entourage of bodyguards.
“The police officers provided no assistance whatsoever and failed to take the necessary statements at the time of the incident,” the report charged.
SAPS spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo did not respond to requests for comment.
Mugabe, who arrived at the hotel with several bodyguards and a police escort at about 9pm on the Sunday, was accused of assaulting Gabriella Engels, 20, and two of her friends.
The Sunday Times reported that a hotel employee was shoved by one of Mugabe’s sons during the fracas and subsequently miscarried.
The report details how Mugabe arrived at the hotel after being contacted by the bodyguards of her two sons – Robert jnr and Bellarmine Chatunga – informing her of their “disruptive behaviour”. They were apparently in the company of four young women booked into another room.
However, shortly after Mugabe arrived and a young woman was seen fleeing from one of the rooms after allegedly being assaulted, a female hotel staff member called security.
Grace Mugabe was “acting in a disruptive manner” when a hotel staff member, accompanied by security, was then also allegedly assaulted by Mugabe.
Police were contacted, the panic button was used to summon armed-response officers and management of the security company were contacted for further assistance at 9:17pm. The situation, however, had calmed down, and when police arrived they advised security officers not to touch Mugabe or her bodyguards.
“The first lady instructed her bodyguards to find the friends who accompanied her sons and collect the belongings of both sons in rooms ..”
The building was searched and “various items of clothing, cellphones and keys” were recovered by the bodyguards. It took an hour to get Mugabe and her entourage “escorted off the premises by Aragon”.
Carrol Smith, director of Aragon security, said: “Unfortunately I have a nondisclosure agreement.”
Basson said: “We have arranged for the employees involved to receive … ongoing trauma counselling and have ensured that they have access to legal support.”