‘Tell us WHO SAID YES’
Madiba’s grandson is on a mission to find out which family member gave permission for a controversial book about the deceased statesman’s last days
Mandla Mandela has called on Penguin Random House, the publishers of Mandela’s Last Years, to reveal the name of the family member who supposedly gave permission for the controversial book to be published so that the family can deal with them.
Authored by former surgeon-general Vejay Ramlakan, the book gives an insight into former president Nelson Mandela’s health before his death in December 2013 and has caused a public outcry, with the Mandela family leading the charge, forcing its publishers to pull it off the shelves within days of its release. Mandla, Madiba’s eldest grandson, also lambasted Ramlakan for trying to profit from his grandfather’s name.
“It was the doctor himself, Ramlakan, who said he got authority from the family to publish the book. When the publishers put out its statement to withdraw the book, they also said there was a family member that had given authorisation for this book to be published,” Mandela said this week.
“Therefore, in the spirit of being transparent, we would like the publisher to reveal the name of that family member because I believe that, as a family, we are united in upholding Madiba’s legacy.
“If there is someone within us that holds a contrary view, then we would like to understand who would commit such a gross violation of Madiba’s dignity.”
Mandla said he did not want to speculate about who it was – it was reported this week that Madiba’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, and daughter Makaziwe were in favour of the book – but wanted the publishers and Ramlakan to reveal the family member’s name so that the family can ask that person why they did what they did.
Mandla said he had not personally seen the book, but only read snippets of it on News24.
“Here is a founding father of our democracy, an African statesman and global icon, and his personal issues have been now discussed in detail by a doctor that he once trusted,” Mandla said. “And that doctor has found means of not just breaching doctorpatient confidentiality, but has also tried to gain from Madiba’s name. We take exception to that and this is why we called on the publishers to withdraw this book.”
Mandla called on those who already have copies of the book – which is now in high demand – to “do the right thing”.
“I wouldn’t want to prescribe to people what to do, but they would have heard the call from the family ... and if they seek and strive to uphold Madiba’s legacy, they would do the right thing,” he said.
Mandla also applauded the publishers for doing the right thing and said he had confidence in Madiba’s lawyers to bring Ramlakan to book.
And while the book’s release had been very upsetting, the family is working hard to keep Madiba’s legacy alive.
“I am in KwaZulu-Natal today [Thursday] to engage with the provincial government in preparation for the Mandela Day Marathon at the end of August,” he said. “In Mvezo and Qunu yesterday and today we have been planting trees in an and around the areas that Madiba was proud of.
“These are the things that will always be coming up, we just assert ourselves and speak to the legacy as we know it.”
THAT WAS THEN Former surgeon-general Vejay Ramlakan (left) and Chief Mandla Mandela