MOURNERS in Zimbabwe will no longer be allowed to parade coffins in public places, according to reports.
“Coffin-parading” has long been a colourful feature of the funerals of drug lords, diamond dealers and other controversial characters in the southern African country.
But now the police say it has to stop.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told the official Herald newspaper on Friday that the practice amounted to “abuse of the dead”.
Crowds often surge to watch processions of youths parading the coffin of a colleague or friend through streets in Harare and particularly the eastern border city of Mutare, which is close to the Marange diamond fields.
The state-controlled Manica Post newspaper published photos on Friday of a truck of riot police called out to the funeral of a popular local drug dealer on Monday in the Mutare township of Sakubva.
Crowds swelled as the coffin of the man — known by many as Master Mondy — as it was taken to a gym and then a volleyball court before it was finally buried, according to the report.
The police appear to have been particularly irked by touts and vendors in Harare’s dormitory town of Chitungwiza last week, who paraded the coffin of a colleague who had been knocked over and killed by a minibus.
The bus driver was trying to get away from the police when he hit Lazarus Chimwendo, according to reports last week.
Charamba was quoted as saying: “Deceased persons deserve respect and movement of coffins should only be for burial purposes”.
“Anyone caught while abusing a dead body will be dealt with in terms of the country’s law,” Charamba told the Herald.
In 2013, the corpse of a suspected robber fell out of a coffin that was being paraded in Harare’s Mbare township.
The coffin had been placed on top of a car by the man’s friends.
State media reported at the time that the driver “skidded and revved as if at a drag racing show.”