HAVANA, CUBA- The South African government is waiting for an explanation from Villa Clara University authorities regarding the beating of medical students from their country during a party last November that descended into chaos.
Deputy Minister of Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo reacted to the investigation he announced a few days ago in front of a commission of the National Council of Provinces (upper house of parliament) in Cape Town last week. He stated that students have demanded explanations, although the government is yet to provide one.
“The students were beaten up by the police on campus during a birthday party that was supposed to start at 7:00 p.m., but it finally started at 9:00 p.m. and lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It is not yet known who called the police, but the students say the officers asked them to turn the music down because it was too loud at that hour,” he said.
A commission has been established to investigate the incident by the Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences, according to Dhlomo. “We will await the results. We will meet with the attaché in Cuba this week,” he said.
The video of this event was widely shared and condemned the violent manner in which the National Revolutionary Police ended the party at the shelter in Santa Clara, where it took place.
“Walk, come on, upstairs!” the police said to the young people. “Record video, record video!” an English voice was heard saying.
The South African Ministry of Health, upon being informed that those beaten were citizens of South Africa, confirmed that the excessive force displayed by the Cuban police would be investigated. According to reports, they trust the Cuban side to investigate.
The South African House of Representatives asked Dhlomowhat his government was doing to ensure the safety of South African students abroad, but Dhlomo did not respond.
Last month, Dhlomo made controversial statements when he asked that the “sensationalist” video of the beaten fellows not be shared. The spread of the document could harm both the families of the students and diplomatic relations between Cuba and South Africa, according to the official.
Since the time of Nelson Mandela, relations between the two countries have been very positive, although they have continued to be so under their successors in office, all members of the hitherto unbeatable African National Congress party, that in the last election began to suffer from cases of corruption in these years, which was apparent in the loss of votes despite maintaining their victory.
A cooperation agreement was renewed last week between Cuba and South Africa concerning the management of water resources and the provision of water, under which Cuban engineers provide advice to their South African counterparts on improving the maintenance and management of water supply and sanitation infrastructures. The situation is especially acute in rural areas and other disadvantaged communities.