Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Durban — The bodies of two medical students who drowned in Cuba earlier this month have been brought back to South Africa for burial.

The bodies of Sibusiso Thanks Ngeleka from KwaNzimakwe near Port Edward on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and Sihle Cebo Makhaye from Manguzi on the North Coast arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department said the two students would be buried separately on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The fourth and fifth-year medical students had been part of a group of students who had hired a house to celebrate the birthday party of one of their fellow South African students in Havana when the tragedy occurred.

It is alleged that during the party‚ they decided to go and "cool down" in the swimming pool. But when they did not return‚ their friend started a frantic search for them.

Makhaye was discovered inside the pool and rushed to hospital but died on the way, while Ngeleka was already dead when he was discovered in the pool.

The two students were part of 2‚885 South African medical students studying in Cuba as part of the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro medical training programme, which started in 1996.

Their tragic death comes after a third-year student from the same programme committed suicide in August.

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