Thousands Line Streets for Machel Funeral
African royalty, presidents, guerrilla leaders and Maureen Reagan joined tens of thousands of Mozambicans today for the funeral of President Samora Machel, whose violent death stirred Third World protests against South Africa.
Machel’s plane was bound from Zambia to Maputo when it crashed 200 yards inside South Africa on Oct. 19. Thirty-four people were killed and 10 survived.
Mourners in Independence Square heard Machel, 53 when he died, eulogized as a soldier who fell in the fight against apartheid, neighboring South Africa’s system of legalized racial segregation.
More than 100 countries were represented, but no diplomat from South Africa was invited.
Guests included Oliver Tambo, head of the African National Congress guerrilla movement that seeks to end white control in South Africa; President Reagan’s daughter, Maureen; Geidar Alyiev, first deputy prime minister of the Soviet Union, and American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Alyiev’s presence was a sign of close Soviet ties with Mozambique’s Marxist regime.
A military band played dirges in occasional light rain. Many in the crowd carried bouquets of flowers, some uprooted from a nearby park.
Activity in Maputo ceased as Marcelino dos Santos, the top official in the ruling Marxist FRELIMO party and a possible successor to Machel, delivered a eulogy.
“The shock of your journey from which there is no return still shudders through the body of the entire nation,” dos Santos said. “You fell in the struggle against apartheid. . . . You understood apartheid as a problem for all humanity.”
Machel’s coffin was put on a gun carriage and towed three miles behind an armored car for interment in Hero’s Square, where Machel’s second wife, Josina, and other Mozambican heroes are buried. Machel had been Mozambique’s president since leading the country to independence from Portugal in 1975.
The procession moved slowly past Mozambicans standing five to 10 deep, many silent, some weeping. Tens of thousands viewed the 4 1/2-hour ceremonies.
Cannon fired a 21-gun salute and a bugler played a mournful farewell as the coffin disappeared inside a star-shaped marble crypt in the square’s center.
Foreign delegations, including at least 15 heads of state, stood along the path near the crypt door. Mourners included Prime Minister Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho; President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya and Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Even before an official investigation of the crash began, Machel’s death prompted accusations of South African responsibility. South African officials have denied involvement.