SA sniper in Haiti hit?

2006-01-10 22:52

Pretoria - The possibility that a sniper of South African origin might have been responsible for the death of General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar, commanding general of the United Nations force in Haiti (Minustah), has been mentioned in security circles in this violence-torn country.

According to initial reports, Bacellar committed suicide on Saturday morning.

The latest reports in the Dominican media questioned the feasibility of suicide as no bullet casing was found near the body.

Reports in El Nacional newspaper said that Bacellar was sitting reading on his hotel-room balcony when he died. His book was in his lap.

He would have been an easy target for a sniper.

Minustah has been criticised often in recent months for the force's inability to stop gang violence in the country.

Travel documents carefully checked

Recent rumours were that South African mercenaries might again have been on their way to Haiti.

It was reported that the Dominican Republic, a neighbour to Haiti, apparently scrutinises the travel documents of European and South African visitors to see whether they might have ulterior motives.

None of these allegations could be confirmed in South Africa.

Foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on Tuesday the South African government had not received any enquiries yet about the possible involvement of a South African in Bacellar's death.

Mamoepa said such an enquiry would be directed to South Africa through the United Nations.

A post-mortem is being done to determine the exact cause of death and the calibre of the firearm that killed Bacellar.