South African soldiers studying medicine in Cuba have been deported for refusing to attend classes


The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) has deported 35 soldiers Medical students who were in Cuba were accused of rioting and boycotting classes, so they would not join the army either.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that the students’ conduct amounted to looting, sided with the SANDF and said the 35 South African students could not do what they wanted, local media reported.

Almost all of the soldiers involved in the legal process were officers and non-commissioned officers working for the SANDF as medical personnel and arrived on the island in 2017 to study at the Jose Maceo Inter-Army School in Santiago de Cuba. Faculties of the University of Medical Sciences of Havana.

After completing a course in Spanish and pre-med, they began their academic training as part of a contract with the SANDF that covered expenses upfront for six years (salaries, service allowances, stipends and tuition).

However, between February 11 and March 20, 2019, they stopped attending classes because they stated that the Cuban school was not accredited to conduct classes and that the quality of the teaching service was insufficient.

As a means of protest, they left the bathrooms dirty, the water taps open, affecting the internal life of the school, and also incited other students to join their protest.

In February 2019, the Faculty Surgeon General informed them that he would inform the SANDF Chief of Staff for their conduct and ask for the removal of the cadets, to which they responded with individual letters asking them to register at an institution, preferably their own. country to meet Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) standards.

A short time later, they were expelled from the Faculty of Medical Sciences and from Cuba.

The students presented their case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor and stated that they should be reinstated and have the right to a trial.

The SANDF appealed and sought an emergency order preventing the reinstatement of the cadets, so the SCA reviewed the case and ruled against the students.

“The Supreme Court erred in holding that if the dismissal took place before the inquiry panel was convened and its findings recorded, it would deprive the inquiry of any meaningful purpose. The opposite is true. is deprived of its effectiveness if it is interpreted as the first step in the procedure of the board of inquiry,” said Judge Ashton Schippers.

In ruling against the cadets, the court took into account that in order to be part of the program they had to accept the essential terms and conditions of the agreement, and that SANDF regulations consider a dismissed officer absent from duty. day for more than 30 years without the permission of his commander.

Cuba and South Africa have signed several bilateral agreements on public health that allow Cuban doctors to be sent to that country and train future South African specialists on the island.

The South African Department of Health began sending young people to Cuba to explore this career in 1998, shortly after the signing of the bilateral agreement between Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro.

These types of agreements are beneficial for Cuba because he keeps a significant part of the Cuban doctors’ salaries and also receives income to train African doctors.

In 2019, both countries renewed these agreements, according to a press release issued by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

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