Health Ministry negotiating with Cuba for lesser punishment for SA students over kidnapping incident

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Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says his department is in talks with the Cuban government to impose a lighter punishment for an Eastern Cape medical student who studied in Cuba.

Last month, the Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences in Cuba suspended the student from Ngqamakhwe, near Butterworth, for three years. He is accused of kidnapping two young Cuban women along with a fellow student from KwaZulu-Natal.

The student alleges that the women were part of a trio that robbed them and were trying to get them to return their possessions.

Speaking during a visit to the student’s home, Dhlomo says his plea to the Cuban government is for the students to complete their studies.

“We are pleading and are going to keep engaging with the Cuban government. However, they have also indicated to us that we should have some evidence that we are supporting this young boy. That we are engaging him in terms of counselling, because there was a particular misdemeanor, but we believe that this misdemeanor is probably not warranting this three years, so we are pleading just that part.”