Who sanctioned doctor’s book on Madiba?
THE Mandela family is still in the dark about who could have authorised the publication of a book on the final years of Nelson Mandela’s life.
The official stand from Madiba’s widow Graça Machel was that she was considering taking legal action against the author, Dr Vejay Ramlakan, or the publisher Penguin Random House South Africa for the publication of Mandela’s Last Years.
Family members feel that Ramlakan had breached the doctor/ patient confidentiality code.
Machel is supported by Madiba’s grandchildren, Mandla and Ndileka in her view to seek legal opinion against Ramlakan.
In a statement released by her foundation on Friday, Machel “condemned” the book.
“It is an affront to and an assault on the trust and dignity of my late husband, President Nelson Mandela. It breaches the doctor/ patient relationship of confidentiality and I am taking legal advice on whether to institute legal proceedings against the author and its publisher,” she said.
Ramlakan retired from the military in 2015 and was the head of Mandela’s medical team until his death.
In the book, Ramlakan reportedly detailed Madiba’s admission to the Medical Heart Hospital until the day he drew his last breath, with his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at his bedside.
When contacted by The Star’s sister paper, the Daily News yesterday, for clarity on who in the family had given their blessing on the book, Ramlakan said the statement released by his publisher had all that “we wanted to say on this matter”.
“I don’t want to address the issues you are questioning me about. I’m suggesting that you, as a journalist, do your research and interview other members of the family,” he said.
Chief Mandla Mandela, in a statement through the Royal House on Saturday, reportedly said: “We want to caution that this is not the first apparent abuse of the Mandela name and legacy.”
He appealed to all to respect the wishes and proprietary rights vested by Madiba himself.
In a later social media post Mandla posted: “We want to assure mamu Nosizwe (Graça Machel) that she is not alone in taking offence at the apparent violation of Nkosi Dalibhunga’s privacy. We believe that the sentiments she has expressed find echoes in the hearts of all who loved and revered the Father of Our Nation.”
Madiba’s granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, did not take kindly to the publication of her grandfather’s health details. She took to Facebook where she said it was “disappointing”, “hurtful” and “disrespectful” to have learnt about her granddad’s last years in a book published by his doctor(s), whom he had considered “trustworthy”.
“The book unethically goes into detail of procedures performed on Granddad, thus not only violating a doctor/patient confidentiality, this book is furthermore in breach of the professional Hippocratic Oath and code of conduct for doctors.
“This warrants licences to be revoked, particularly of all those who were involved in the process of writing the book.”
When asked who in the family could have given Ramlakan consent to publish the book, Ndileka said she was still battling to figure out who the culprit could be as she was shocked when she heard about the book.
“I don’t know what to make of the claim that the family had granted permission to publish this book. My family is big and like any other family we have disagreements on certain issues, as you have seen in the recent past.
“If it is proven that a family member is behind this, then I’d take it up with that family member to establish what the motive behind this was,” she said.
Her aunt Makaziwe Mandela was snippy in her response to questions about the book. “I can’t be responding to calls about gossip. Did Sis Graça not say she’s going to sue? So let her sue,” she said.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was still going through the book and once a position was taken, they would make it public, said Sello Hatang, the foundation’s chief executive.
The Health Professions Council of SA said patients could lodge complaints through their legal unit and, in this case, they requested emailed questions, which would be attended to by its legal division.
‘DO YOUR RESEARCH’: Dr Vejay Ramlakan told a reporter to interview the family members to find out who gave permission.