A top South African police official has been suspended over his alleged role in the illegal transfer of Zimbabwean nationals in South African police custody to Zimbabwean police, according to a BBC report. 

Earlier today, Musa Zondi, spokesman for the South Africa’s Police confirmed that Anwa Dramat, head of the special investigative unit, was suspended yesterday for a period of two months while an investigation into his alleged  involvement in the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean nationals is carried out.

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“He has been placed on precautionary suspension pending the investigation and finalization of claims regarding the alleged rendition of Zimbabwean nationals from South Africa without there being the right processes and protocols followed,” Zondi said.

Anwa Dramat has not issued a comment on his suspension, but has previously denied participating in illegal rendition processes when the allegations first surfaced in 2011.

‘Dead or Missing’

In 2011, local South African media reported that several police units, including Dramat’s special investigative unit, were routinely and illegally, handing over detained Zimbabweans to Zimbabwean police.

South Africa’s Sunday Times reported in 2011 that Witness Ndeya, a 26-year-old Zimbabwean, had been murdered in Zimbabwean police custody after being illegally transferred by South African police, which prompted an investigation by South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate, a police watchdog.

The paper also profiled the case of another Zimbabwean, Gordon Dube, who apparently had his hands chopped off before being killed in Zimbabwean police custody. Pritchard Tshuma was also profiled in the paper as a third Zimbabwean whose whereabouts could not be ascertained after being transferred over to Zimbabwean authorities.

Human rights observers are concerned that some of the illegally-transferred Zimbabweans are activists and rights campaigners who are sure to face persecution, if handed over to Zimbabwean authorities.

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has historically enjoyed much support and economic assistance from South Africa, even as the larger international community faults the aging leader for heavily restricting press freedoms and civil dissent.

A power-sharing agreement brokered by South Africa between Robert Mugabe’s ruling party and opposition groups under Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008 appears to have largely failed in improving Zimbabwean civil life, as opposition figures continue to suffer abuses inflicted by the Zimbabwean authorities.

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