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Zimbabwean Police Privately Bury Opposition Activist - 2003-04-24

A few of Mr. Marchiredza's friends ran to the burial site and were last seen hiding in the bush, hoping to bid him farewell from a distance.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says Mr. Machiridza was one of its outstanding grass roots leaders and organizers. He was arrested 10 days ago, and allegedly beaten. Opposition officials say police took him to the local government hospital and chained him to a bed, but they say he received no treatment.

His friends collected him from the government hospital and took him to a private clinic, but he died shortly afterwards, on the 23rd anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence last week.

Doctors say the cause of death was loss of blood.

Mr. Machiridza's funeral was supposed to be a major event. Opposition MDC party president Morgan Tsvangirai was due to speak over his coffin at a church hall. But after his relatives were arrested, and the hall was surrounded by policemen, Mr. Tsvangirai went to the man's home to pay his respects privately to his widow and children.

Meanwhile on the second day of the three-day strike called by the trade union movement, to protest a 300 percent increase in the price of fuel, many shops and factories remained closed. But the strike was not as widespread as on the first day.

Workers said commuter bus drivers were threatened by ruling party officials that if they did not provide transport from the suburbs to the industrial areas, they would lose their licenses. So many of them returned to work.