President Robert Mugabe's motorcade - notorious for its strict security procedures and high-speed travel - came to a sudden halt in Harare today when a mystery vehicle evaded outriders and guards before smashing into a security vehicle. Both drivers died at the scene.
The incident happened on Harare's Seventh Street, only a few hundred metres from the official residence of the Zimbabwean President. Mugabe was unhurt, and continued his journey to the airport, where he left for a diplomatic visit to Mozambique.
Officers of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Presidential Guards, Mugabe's personal security men, remained at the scene and cordoned off the area. Tipped off by a CIO source, I arrived minutes later, and was able to see the two body bags and the damaged vehicles.
My source told me that many CIO operatives are convinced that this was a deliberate attempt to kill Mugabe by crashing his vehicle - a method of assassination not unknown in Southern Africa.
He pointed out: "No motorist in his right mind would get mixed up with the Mugabe motorcade. It has happened in the past, and each time the driver was caught and beaten up by our guys. In any case, a squad of four motorcycle outriders lead the way, each driving a distance of 30 to 45 seconds apart. You might miss one, but not all of them. To say nothing of the wailing sirens. Then there are three security vehicles before you get to Mugabe himself."
The rogue vehicle - a Mazda 323 - evaded all the riders and the first guard car, before smashing into the second. The identity of the dead driver is being kept a strict secret.
There is also a black-out on any news here about the incident. When I called the Minister of Information, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, he disconnected without a comment. Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga just said: "I don't know anything about that," before ringing off.
Remarkably, in a country where road wrecks can lie around on the sides of the road for weeks, all evidence that the crash had occurred was removed from the scene within one hour.