Who sanc­tioned doc­tor’s book on Madiba?

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS NDAL­ISO

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.

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