What would you do? Proceed with a case, which could possibly carry on for years? Or complete a blank cheque and move on?
This could easily be the title of a crime novel, or a badly written comedy. It just sounds, well, bizarre. If you don’t know what I am referring to, it is probably because you have been lucky enough to be on holiday somewhere where there is very little media coverage or cellphone signal. Not only has this story been dominating the *news and social media locally, but it is all over the international newspapers too. Even as far as **Australia – I kid you not.
There are many questions around the incident. Why was Grace Mugabe concerned over whom her sons socialise with? How did Grace Mugabe get access to a hotel room with restricted access? Where were the sons at that stage? Were both girls being attacked or just one of them? Etc., etc.….. Afriform, in the form of Gerrie Nel, have offered their services to Gabriella Engels, the 20-year-old model, who was attacked. Kallie Kriel from Afriform was quoted saying;
“Through my discussions she had just met them. This is the kind of thing I think we should fight. It falls in the same category as when people say a woman was raped because of the clothes she wore.”
Afriform is expecting the trial to start within the next three months.
And then another interesting thing happened. Gabriella Engels was offered a blank cheque…. For everything to just go away. How tempting must that have been? Because let’s face it, no one knows what the outcome of a possible court case is going to be. Will our president really allow his friends’ wife to go to jail? Or somewhere someone is going to find a loophole, a reason, why Grace Mugabe cannot be prosecuted. This is risky business. This opened a very interesting discussion on 702 this morning and I always find people’s opinions fascinating. The public court always has many views.
“She needs to settle”
“Lawyers are expensive and this is going to be very traumatic for her.”
“People in power should not get away with crime.”
“Gabriella is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.”
“She should ask for a huge amount and insist on a public apology from Grace Mugabe.”
“Accepting money will not make her forget what has happened to her.”
“Her mother is putting pressure on her to pursue the case. She should be given time to decide what she wants to do.”
It made me wonder what I would do if I was in her shoes. A 20-year old girl who has her whole life ahead of her. Who works in an industry where today you could be the most sought after, and tomorrow your portfolio is at the bottom of the pile. Whose life is going to be dissected by top lawyers who will be out to prove that you are not the victim? Paparazzi cameras constantly shoved in your face, and for months, you belong to the public. There could even be death threats, little accidents happening to your family members, friends and family turning against you. Or siding with you because they want their pound of flesh.
At the age of 20 I would seriously consider taking that cheque, writing down a ridiculous amount in dollars and go on a long vacation until the dust has settled. How awesome could her life be! She could fix her face by a top plastic surgeon, get a personal trainer, start her own modeling agency, pay magazines to use her in their photo shoots, take acting lessons, buy a house and a cute cabriolet. Write a book about her ordeal, start a charity for abused women, host her own talkshow. The possibilities are quite endless.
But this has become a high profile case now. This is not just some girl, who was attacked by a mommy’s boys’ crazy mother, in a 3* hotel in Bloemfontein. This is a full scale battle. The victim and her lawyers want to prove that a highly connected person is not above the law. They want to make a point of showing the world that even a first lady will not get away with a crime, and that no amount of money or contacts, is going to get her out of this mess.
Because of the international coverage of this incident, Gabriella Engels now has to do “the right thing” and fight this tooth and nail. She will be crucified by the press and social media if she does otherwise. And she has to fight this not only for herself, but for all woman out there how suffer under the hands of violence.
So my question to you remains – what would you do?