Pub­lisher cans Man­dela book in the face of le­gal ac­tion

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TEBOGO MONAMA

PEN­GUIN Ran­dom House South Africa acted swiftly yes­ter­day to with­draw Dr Ve­jay Ram­lakan’s book as le­gal ac­tion looms.

This came af­ter the ex­ecu­tors of Nel­son Man­dela’s es­tate – Jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke, ad­vo­cate Ge­orge Bi­zos and Judge Themba San­goni – stepped in to con­sider lay­ing a com­plaint with the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of SA (HPCSA) and the SANDF. They ar­gued that Ram­lakan broke the pa­tient-doc­tor con­fi­den­tial­ity laws and in­vaded the late states­man’s pri­vacy.

Graça Machel, his widow, and his grand­son Mandla Man­dela have also slammed the book.

Pen­guin Ran­dom House made a U-turn af­ter last week’s as­ser­tion by the pub­lisher that they would not with­draw the book.

But yes­ter­day, the pub­lisher said this was done out of re­spect for the Man­dela fam­ily. Machel had threat­ened to haul the pub­lish­ers to court if the book went on sale.

The book – Man­dela’s Last Years – was writ­ten by Man­dela’s physi­cian, Ram­lakan, de­tail­ing Man­dela’s fi­nal mo­ments be­fore he died.

In a state­ment, Su­rita Jou­bert said: “The book was meant to por­tray Nel­son Man­dela’s courage and strength up to the very end of his life and was in no way in­tended to be dis­re­spect­ful.

“How­ever, given the state­ments from his fam­ily mem­bers, we have de­cided to with­draw the book.”

If Machel and Madiba’s ex­ecu­tors pur­sue the le­gal route, Ram­lakan could be struck off the role if he loses the case.

Some of the claims made in the book are that it was Madiba’s ex-wife Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela who was at Man­dela’s deathbed and not Machel, who he was mar­ried to at the time.

The au­thor also claimed neg­a­tive fam­ily dy­nam­ics had put a strain on Man­dela’s health.

Ram­lakan, who claimed he had per­mis­sion from the fam­ily to pub­lish the ma­te­rial, also said doc­tors were wor­ried that Man­dela had died when he stopped breath­ing seven months be­fore his death in De­cem­ber 2013.

Mandla said the fam­ily was “de­lighted” about the with­drawal. He said the fam­ily still did not know who had given Ram­lakan per­mis­sion to pub­lish the book.

Mandla said: “We want to ap­peal, in the name of trans­parency, that the name of the fam­ily mem­ber be dis­closed so that we can ver­ify and deal with this mat­ter.”

He said he hoped the with­drawal of the book served as a de­ter­rent for peo­ple want­ing to ben­e­fit un­duly from his fam­ily’s name.

“The pri­vate and per­sonal dis­clo­sures made in the book would have been a sad day in which profit tri­umphed over dig­nity, hon­our and re­spect. We thank Pen­guin for act­ing with sagac­ity and up­hold­ing the fi­nal wishes of one who gave so much to the world,” Mandla said.

The Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Sello Hatang also crit­i­cised the book, say­ing it should not have been pub­lished in the first place. Hatang said while the foun­da­tion wel­comed the with­drawal, they were analysing it for in­ac­cu­ra­cies.

“The first in­ac­cu­racy we picked up was that the au­thor claimed that the foun­da­tion pushed hard for him (Madiba) to at­tend the open­ing of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. This is not true. We ad­vised against it, but it was not our de­ci­sion to make,” Hatang said. “It was a de­ci­sion that Madiba and his fam­ily made and it wasn’t for us to make.”

Hatang also re­jected the claim that Machel worked for the foun­da­tion when Man­dela’s health de­te­ri­o­rated.

“Graça Machel has never been em­ployed by the foun­da­tion and she is not a trustee. She oc­ca­sion­ally gave speeches, but never worked for the foun­da­tion. We find that the book was based on ig­no­rance and we in­tend on un­earthing the in­ac­cu­ra­cies it con­tains,” he said.

The ex­ecu­tors of Man­dela’s es­tate

Madiba trus­tees: au­thor broke med­i­cal, pri­vacy law

have now threat­ened to re­port Ram­lakan, a re­tired mil­i­tary doc­tor, to the SANDF for “un­law­ful con­duct” and to the HPCSA.

The Depart­ment of De­fence said it had com­pletely dis­tanced it­self from the book.

LAW­SUIT LOOMS: Au­thor Dr Ve­jay Ram­lakan was Man­dela’s doc­tor.

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