A group of late night Zimbabwean hitch-hikers had a shock when they were driven to a cemetery and forced to dig up a coffin at gunpoint. The three men in a truck who offered the 20 hitch-hikers a lift to Chitungwiza, a township outside Harare, instead sped to a graveyard, gave them picks and shovels and forced them to open a grave, the Herald newspaper reported on Saturday.

The reluctant grave robbers then had to tip the human remains back into the pit and hand the empty coffin to the gangsters, who drove off into the night, leaving them stranded.

Stealing coffins from graves for resale is on the increase in Zimbabwe because the AIDS pandemic has increased demand, and the economic crisis means many people cannot afford to buy them legally.