A freelance photographer working for the Sunday Times has suffered lacerations to his face and says he was repeatedly punched in the face during an assignment in Hong Kong.
Richard Jones was taking pictures of Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, leaving the luxury Shangri-La hotel in Hong Kong, where she was on holiday.
He said that, after Mugabe saw him taking photographs, she ordered her bodyguard to attack him – before joining in the assault herself, he claims.
“She directed several punches into my face,” said Jones, from Machen in South Wales. “She was wearing diamond-encrusted rings, which caused a lot of lacerations.”
He added: “I thought, how can a first lady be doing this? I was in shock more at the situation than the punches.”
Jones said he suffered at least 10 cuts to his face but did not require hospital treatment.
Werner Zapletal, an Austrian tourist who saw the attack, said: “She was screaming, completely crazy.”
After fleeing, Mugabe and her entourage ran into a second photographer, Tim O’Rourke. The Sunday Times said she “flew at him with fists flying, pulled his hair and tried to smash his camera”.
Hong Kong police detained the bodyguard, but released him after questioning. The investigation is ongoing.
Michael Sheridan, The Sunday Times’s Far East correspondent, said the paper had hoped to ‘draw a contrast between her [Mugabe’s] lifestyle and the plight of the people in Zimbabwe”.
‘We take very seriously the freedom of journalists to operate abiding by the law in Hong Kong and we look to the Hong Kong authorities to uphold those rights at all times,’he said.