Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo told MPs that South African medical students, who were assaulted by police in Cuba early last month, had been partying until the early hours of the morning and had been warned to switch off their music.
This week, MPs in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) questioned Dhlomo on what the government had done to ensure the safety of South African students abroad. Dhlomo replied that the students admitted that the Cuban police had told them to switch off the music, and that while in another country, that country’s rules should be respected.
News24 reports that the students are part of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration Programme between South Africa and Cuba that started in 1997. Their hostel residence in Santa Clara is on on hospital premises.
“The students were beaten by the police during a birthday celebration party which was supposed to start at 7pm, but ended up starting at 9pm and went on and on until the very early hours. The students did indicate that the police told them to turn down [off] the music as it was too loud for the early hours of the morning,” Dhlomo said.
“The university management has notified the provincial leadership of the Villa Clara [Medical University of Villa Clara] that a commission has been established to investigate the incident. We are having a meeting with the attaché in Cuba this week,” he said.
In a video widely circulating on social media, a man believed to be a student is seen sitting on a couch with his hands tied behind his back as an officer grabs him by the neck and shoulder while slapping him on his chest. At least two other students had their faces slapped during the video clip, while officers dragged away another man, amid creams of protests.
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