Democratic Alliance (Cape Town)

21 February 2013

South Africa: SA Ambassador in Cuba Must Aid Detained Students

press release

I have today written to Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane requesting her to call on the South African Ambassador to Cuba, Ambassador Manana, to urgently come to the aid of South African medical students who have allegedly been detained by Cuban authorities after gathering outside the South African embassy in Havana.

The students - who are funded by the Department of Health - have informed us that department officials had promised to visit them and look into their grievances as regards their standard of living, but to date they have not been contacted by anyone from the South African government.

The detained students were reportedly picked up by Cuban authorities while waiting outside the South African embassy on Monday night and are still in custody.

Due to limited information available, it is currently unclear whether the students have actually received any official assistance from the South African authorities in Cuba.

I have asked Minister Nkoane-Mashabane to request Ambassador Manana to look into the matter urgently and provide clarity on the safety and well-being of the students.

I will also be asking Parliamentary questions in order to determine the nature of the agreement between the Department of Health and the students as regards their living conditions in Cuba.

Any South African citizens visiting or studying in foreign countries should be able to depend on DIRCO's assistance when the need arises.

Ian Davidson, Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

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