Motsoaledi reacts to SA med students drowning at Cuban birthday party

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Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi learned with ‘shock and sadness’ about the death of two final-year Cuba-based SA medical students drowned in a swimming pool at a birthday celebration.

Health Ministry spokesperson Popo Maja is quoted in The Citizen as saying: “We are informed that students had hired a house for a birthday party. Two of the students drowned and died in the swimming pool. They are Sihle Cebo Makhaye and Sibusiso Thanks Ngeleka, both from KwaZulu-Natal.

The report quoted Motsoaledi saying: “Our hearts and thoughts are with the family, relatives, colleagues and friends of the deceased in this darkest hour. We express our sincere condolences.”

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is arranging trauma counselling for members of the families.

The Cuba exchange programmed has been marred by tragic events. In an unrelated incident earlier this year, another Cuba-based student lost their life, allegedly due to suicide. At the time, the department had withheld the student’s name.

Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had said at the time: “We are in complete shock to learn about the death of one of our students as we were eagerly waiting to receive him back in the country to practice medicine and contribute to the development of our nation.”

In 2016, the Health Department said KwaZulu-Natal had had 789 medical students in Cuba. Eighty five doctors have qualified through this training programme.

The Citizen report

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