Cape Town – The body of a Free State medical student, who was stabbed to death in Cuba, is expected to return home in about 10 days.
Premier Ace Magashule on Thursday said he was deeply saddened by the death of "dedicated patriot" Mbuti Twala on December 28.
The second-year medical student hailed from Bolata, a village in QwaQwa.
National health department spokesperson Popo Maja confirmed earlier in the week that Twala had been killed in an "alcohol-related" attack.
It is understood that three locals attacked him and two fellow students with glass bottles.
He had been studying at the Latin American Medical School. That evening he and his friends visited the Baracoa restaurant/bar in a nearby town.
Magashule said the province had dispatched a high-level delegation to his family home to assist with counselling.
The family signed a consent form to repatriate their son’s remains.
The provincial government was in the process of fast-tracking a visa application so that a family member could form part of a delegation travelling home with the body.
"We send students to many distant foreign lands, as part of our strategy to close the critical scarce skills gap, and it is our only wish to see them return to service their country and their people," Magashule said.
He extended condolences to the family and those affected by the death.
Hit with a bottle
It is understood that the three students decided to meet up with other students after a day of eating and drinking.
A local man allegedly hit Twala in the face and he apparently returned the blow.
When they tried to get off the street and into the bar, security guards allegedly refused to let them in because they believed "South Africans were always involved in fights".
Their pleas fell on deaf ears and they had to return to the street.
It is understood that three Cuban men armed themselves with bottles before attacking them.
Twala was hit on the head with a bottle and lay motionless on the ground. His friend covered his body to protect him from the blows and was stabbed in the arm.
Twala was taken to hospital with a stab wound to the chest. Doctors tried to save him, but it was too late.
It is understood that authorities have arrested three men in connection with the murder.
Magashule said the government continued to investigate the circumstances surrounding the young man's death.