Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has been deported from Zambia‚ where he had gone to attend the treason trial of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema‚ the party said.

"DA Leader Mmusi Maimane‚ a Constitutional Office Bearer of South Africa‚ has this evening been forcefully prevented from entering the Republic of Zambia‚ by Zambian Police who boarded his arriving SAA flight upon touchdown‚" the DA said in a statement released on Thursday night.

"Upon arrival Zambian Police boarded the aircraft‚ aggressively confronted Maimane‚ and have taken his private cell phone from his possession.

"It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia‚ when a Leader of the Opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred."

An update by the DA on Friday morning said Maimane had returned to South Africa at 8.30 pm on Thursday and would address the issue at a media briefing later in the day.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it was looking into the incident.

"We've instructed our high commissioner in Zambia to go and meet with the foreign minister to get an explanation… The high commissioner will compile a report … it will then determine a way forward‚" said Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela.