His widow, Graca Machel, is considering suing the book’s author, Dr Vejay Ramlakan, for breaching doctor-patient confidentiality. Dr Ramlakan, however, maintains he was asked to write the book by Madiba’s family, but won’t name who in the family authorised this.
On 5 December, 2013, at the age of 95, Mandela passed away at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, surrounded by his family.
It was announced he had died following a prolonged respiratory infection. Very few details were released surrounding his final days and the world took their time to grieve his loss. Four years later, Mandela’s death is back in the spotlight following a book entitled Mandela’s Last Years and written by the head of Mandela’s medical team‚ the military doctor who witnessed first-hand what the former president was experiencing, Dr Ramlakan.
It not only outlining Madiba’s state of health, his complex medical issues and his passing in 2013, but bitter family squabbles, the constant scrutiny from the press‚ and the actions and responses of Mandela himself.
The book details some of Madiba’s ailments, how an ambulance transporting the former president caught fire en route to hospital six months before his death and that a spy camera was found in the morgue where his body was being held.
It also goes into detail about Madiba’s final days, claiming it was his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and not his widow Machel who was at his side when he passed.
As well as detailing Mandela’s admission to Mediclinic Heart Hospital on June 8, 2013 (seven months before his death) in a serious condition and that the previous night Mandela had suffered a sudden ulcer bleed and concomitant lung infection believed to have caused an aspiration.
Penguin Random House says Ramlakan had stated that he had been requested by the Mandela family to publish the book. In a statement released on the eve of the book’s launch‚ Penguin Random House South Africa said that they had accepted the book for publication after the author had assured them that he had received permission from a family member to write the book. This family member was also presented with a manuscript of the book.
The Mandela family has, however, denied agreeing to the book. Ramlakan has refused to disclose the name of Mandela family members who gave him permission to publish but said he was asked to write the book about six months after Madiba’s death.
The publishers announced this week that no further copies will be issued out of respect for the Mandela family. Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang also said the book should not have been published and that the foundation was not involved in its production. He welcomed it being removed from sale.
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