WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe and South Africa are heading for a diplomatic showdown following the shooting to death of a Zimbabwean embassy official by a local plainclothes policeman.
South African police and the International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Clayson Monyelo, refused to comment on the matter.
Lucky Hakueri, a security agent at the Zimbabwe Embassy, was shot and killed Saturday afternoon after he and a friend were mistaken for lawbreakers by a policeman who opened fire without warning.
The two were reportedly waiting for a friend inside a car when the plainclothes policeman approached them. Reports say the two tried to flee when they realized that the man was armed.
The policeman opened fire and Hakueri lost control of the vehicle when he was hit by one of the bullets.
Hakueri’s friend, whose name has not been released, is recovering under police guard with serious injuries.
His wife told South African newspapers that police told her that her husband could face charges of burglary.
She said: “They (the police) are not telling me what’s going on. They are just saying he is a suspect.”
However, sources at the Zimbabwe Embassy who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Studio 7 Zimbabwe has sent a strongly-worded letter to the South African government demanding an explanation.
The shooting incident occurred as South Africa is said to be making spirited efforts to help revive Zimbabwe’s economy.
A business delegation was in the country last week where it signed several agreements to revive ailing companies and resuscitate those that have closed down.
Commentator Zenzo Nkomo, an official of the South African Communist Party, said the South African government will make efforts to water down the incident in order to avoid a diplomatic row with Harare.