The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the executors of the iconic anti-apartheid leader’s estate have denounced a controversial new book written by the former South African president’s Indian-origin physician, accusing him of “inaccuracies” and “unlawful conduct”. ‘Mandela’s Last Years’ was written by the Nobel laureate’s doctor of almost 10 years — Vejay Ramlakan. Ramlakan, a former South African military doctor who was Mandela’s physician during the last months of his life, has claimed that he received permission for the book from the Mandela family but refused to say who exactly authorised him.
Mandela family spokesman Mandla Mandela and Mandela’s widow Graca Machel are taking legal advice, saying they had not granted the permission. Just hours after it hit the stands, publisher Penguin Random House withdrew the book in which Ramlakan graphically details the last days of his charge amid allegations of him having breached doctor-patient confidentiality. “We believe that the book shouldn’t have been published in the first place, at least from the things that we have thus far been able to find that are just inaccurate in the book,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s chief executive Sello Hatang told TV station news yesterday.
The executors of Mandela’s estate said that the content of the book was “deeply regrettable and unfortunate and constitute unlawful disclosures”. “The publication makes multiple disclosures of details of Mr Mandela’s ill health and related medical treatment and other personal and private information and communications in a manner that breaches, without any lawful justification, the doctor-patient confidentiality to which Mr Mandela was
entitled,” the executors said in a statement.
The executors have decided to take remedial steps. The executors include former chief justice of South Africa Dikgang Moseneke and advocate George Bizos, who was part of the defence team at the infamous trial of Mandela and others that sent them to Robben Island for decades. Random House said it had accepted ‘Mandela’s Last Years’ for publication after Ramlakan advised it that he had been asked by a Mandela family member to publish the book.
“The book was meant to portray Nelson Mandela’s courage and strength until the very end of his life, and was in no way intended to be disrespectful. However, given the statements from family members, we have decided to withdraw the book,” the publisher added.