The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] expresses solidarity with the Republic of Cuba and deeply regrets the devastation caused following a tragic fire accident triggered by an electrical discharge that affected storage tanks in the Matanzas supertanker base.

We regret the loss of lives of several Cuban citizens during the accident. We convey our sincere condolences to the government of Cuba and to the families and friends of those affected. We express deep appreciation at those governments, especially in the region who stepped forward to assist, sending in material aid, firefighting personnel and provided other forms of support. These include Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina and Chile amongst others.

We also commend the government of the Republic of Cuba for prioritizing the saving of lives and in doing everything to restore the operation of the facility and to limit the impact of the explosion on ordinary people.

This is a regrettable accident at whose root cause we believe is the 60 year old American blockade on Cuba. We all know that the American blockade denies Cuba the ability to trade and acquire much needed technical equipment amongst many necessary supplies, especially in the quest to upgrade Cuban infrastructure. The successive American administrations must therefore bear responsibility for such incidents due to their harmful policy of financial, economic and commercial blockade maintained for over 60 years. We reiterate the call for the lifting of the criminal blockade on Cuba.

We call on the South African government to render urgent support to the people of Cuba through medical and firefighting supplies including other material as well as financial support. No country has made the highest sacrifices in the liberation of South Africa than the people of Cuba amongst a few others, whose patriots selflessly laid down their lives for the freedom of South Africa from the yoke of apartheid colonial rule.

Furthermore Matanzas province was the home of the last SACP congress in exile, a province in which up to today, many of South African students from poor backgrounds are being trained as doctors and engineers to work in the most difficult and rural parts of our country.

On our part we will do everything to support the people of Cuba with solidarity and internationalism through the tragedy.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

  • Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: