MEC Dhlomo comforts Mancane Ngeleka, a grandmother of late student Sibusiso Ngeleka. Picture: Themba Mngomezulu

The remains of the two Cuba-based medical students who drowned in a swimming pool in Cuba at the weekend will be repatriated next week. 

This emerged during a visit by KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to the grieving Ngeleka family at KwaNzimakwe, on the south coast of the province on Wednesday. 

"It is alleged that the students who drowned, Sibusiso Thanks Ngeleka and Sihle Cebo Makhaye, both aged 24, had been part of a group who had hired a house to celebrate the birthday of one of their fellow compatriots," the department said in a statement.

MEC Dhlomo with members of the Ngeleka family (from left) Ntombifikile (Sibusiso’s aunt), Lungi Ngeleka (Sibusiso’s mother) and Sibusiso’s grandmother Mancane. Picture: Themba Mngomezulu

An emotional MEC Dhlomo said that Ngeleka’s passing is particularly difficult for him as he has known the student personally and previously interacted with him on numerous occasions to resolve certain challenges regarding his studies.

“When these children are recruited, we prioritise those who are academically bright, but who also come from poor homes that cannot afford to pay for their studies. When they get into the programme we then expect a lot from them, including graduating and coming back to help the country to address the shortage of doctors. When you empower one child from a poor background, it actually means that their own children and future generations will not need bursaries,” said Dhlomo.

MEC Dhlomo is due to visit the Makhaye family, who have also lost a son during this drowning (who was in the fifth year of his medical studies), at Umhlabuyalingana this weekend.

Read more on this tragic story in tomorrow's The Mercury

The Mercury