Johannesburg - The DA has called on the government to assist South African medical students allegedly arrested in Cuba for protesting against their living standards.
MP Ian Davidson, the DA spokesman on international relations and co-operation, said on Thursday he had written to Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane asking her to tell South Africa’s ambassador to Cuba, N Manana, to urgently help the students.
Davidson said they were allegedly 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,” he said.
“The detained students were reportedly picked up by Cuban authorities while waiting outside the embassy on Monday night, and were still in custody last night,” Davidson said.
“Due to limited information available, it is unclear whether the students have received any official assistance from the South African authorities in Cuba.”
International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said on Thursday night that Manana had said no South African students had been detained.
“All 171 have been accounted for,” Monyela said. He said the Department of Health was addressing the students’ complaints about poor food and equipment but was not prepared to address their demand for a higher stipend.