Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Two medical students, from KwaZulu-Natal but based in Cuba, have died.

The Department of Health said in a statement on Monday that Sihle Cebo Makhaye and Sibusiso Thanks Ngeleka, both final year students of study in Cuba, died in a drowning incident during a house party, at a home that had been hired by students to celebrate a birthday party.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with the family, relatives, colleagues and friends of the deceased in this darkest hour. We express our sincere condolences."

The Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal is currently arranging trauma counseling for members of the family.

The Cuba exchange programmed has been marred by tragic events. 

In an unrelated incident earlier this year, another Cuba-based student lost their life, allegedly due to suicide. At the time, the department had withheld the student's name.

Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had said at the time: "We are in complete shock to learn about the death of one of our students as we were eagerly waiting to receive him back in the country to practice medicine and contribute to the development of our nation." 

In 2016, the Health Department said KwaZulu-Natal had had 789 medical students in Cuba. Eighty five doctors have qualified through this training programme.

The Mercury