Grace Mugabe back in Hong Kong

Grace Mugabe, 43, arrived in Hong Kong with an entourage of eight companions on Friday morning and is staying at an undisclosed location, the South China Morning Post reported.

She was escorted through a VIP entrance at Hong Kong International Airport after arriving on a Cathay Pacific flight from Johannesburg, the newspaper said. Her daughter Bona is a university student in Hong Kong.

Grace Mugabe’s visit is her first since January when she allegedly assaulted British photographer Richard Jones when he took pictures of her shopping close to the luxury hotel where she was staying.

News of Grace Mugabe’s Asian holiday and alleged assault made headlines worldwide at a time when Zimbabwe was suffering from chronic poverty, a cholera epidemic and a political crisis.

Outrage

She was granted diplomatic immunity as wife of the Zimbabwean president, sparking outrage among legislators and human rights activists in the former British colony.

The Department of Justice in Hong Kong said it decided Grace Mugabe was entitled to diplomatic immunity after taking advice from China’s foreign ministry.

A month later, two other photographers were allegedly assaulted by bodyguards outside a home in the city’s Tai Po district where Bona lives.

Hong Kong’s Department of Justice later decided not to prosecute the bodyguards, ruling that the pair were doing their job and were concerned for the Mugabe daughter’s safety.

It later emerged that the two bodyguards were in Hong Kong on visitor visas, not work visas, and should not have been working in the city. They have since left Hong Kong.

Many countries have imposed travel bans on the Mugabe family, but China, which directs Hong Kong’s foreign affairs, has good relations and trade links with Zimbabwe.

After the decision not to prosecute Grace Mugabe, 43-year-old Jones said it was "appalling that this woman can come to Hong Kong and behave like that without being held to account".

"From the moment I made the complaint of assault, I realised I’d probably never see Grace Mugabe across a court of law," he said at the time.

Hong Kong’s only other recent case of diplomatic immunity for a serious crime involved a former Vietnamese consul-general arrested for allegedly groping a woman’s bottom.

– SAPA