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Zimbabwean doctor who survives suspected kidnapping leaves for South Africa

A Zimbabwean doctor who survived a suspected kidnapping by state authorities last week left the country for medical treatment in South Africa, a rights group said on Thursday.

Peter Magombeyi, a doctor's union leader, was found 30km (18 miles) from his home in Zimbabwe's capital Harare last week. He was in a dazed state and had been missing for five days.

Doctors accuse Magombeyi's security forces of kidnapping for his role in organizing strikes to demand better pay and working conditions.

Hundreds took to the streets last week to demand authorities investigate their colleague's disappearance.

Magombeyi – who has been recovering in a Harare hospital until now – was confined to his room by police officers despite a court ruling allowing him to seek treatment abroad.

But the court rejected an appeal by police on Wednesday, granting Magombeyi freedom to leave the country.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) told AFP Magombeyi was on his way to neighboring South Africa on Thursday.

"The plan was to quietly sneak out the pressure," said HRW southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga.

Amnesty International had previously condemned Magombeyi's "cruel denial of travel" putting "health at risk".

Rights groups say around 50 political opponents and unionists have been abducted in Zimbabwe this year.

The southern African country is still struggling with high inflation and fuel and food shortages after decades of economic crisis under former President Robert Mugabe, who died on September 6.

str-sch / har

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