Vejay Ramlakan: Did He Violate Mandela’s Privacy?

 The Department of Defence has distanced itself from the controversial book “Mandela’s Last Years”‚ penned by the former surgeon-general of the South African Defence Force.

Former President Nelson Mandela’s grandson‚ Nkosi  Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela‚ has confirmed the family’s “unequivocal support” of former first lady Graca Machel’s threats to take legal action over a new book detailing the stateman’s final years.

In a statement issued on Saturday‚ Mandela agreed with Machel’s sentiments that former Surgeon-General Dr Vijay Ramlakan’s book ‘Mandela’s Last Years’ constituted an “ethical breach and certainly violates the doctor-patient confidentiality principle”.

In a scathing statement Mandela accuses Ramlakan of violating Mandela’s privacy.

“We are aggrieved as a family that the privilege of administering to President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela afforded to the doctor appears to have been vilely abused‚” the statement read.

“We believe that it is not unreasonable to expect that the sensitivities entrusted to him by the family and those entrusted as custodians of Nkosi Dalibhunga’s (Mandela’s) legacy should not be compromised‚ or used in any manner that may be interpreted as pithy gain‚ or which does a disservice to the legacy and the sanctity of uTatomkhulu’s final moments.

“We are deeply disappointed that the doctor appears to have compromised himself and the man whom he had the privilege to serve.

“We want to assure Mamu Nosizwe (Graca Machel) that she is not alone in taking offence at the apparent violation of Nkosi Dalibhunga’s privacy. We believe that the sentiments that she has expressed find echoes in the hearts of all who love and revered the Father of our nation‚” it concludes.

The statement is the latest in a salvo of condemnation by Machel and others over the book‚ which hit shelves on Monday.

Mandela Last Years book
Former South African President Nelson Mandela celebrates his 86th birthday with his wife Graca Machel ( L ) and ex -wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela ( R ) in his rural home town of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on 18 July 2004. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Former First Lady Graca Machel threatened on Friday to sue Dr Vejay Ramlakan – who headed Nelson Mandela’s military medical team for about seven years – as well as publisher Penguin Random House‚ after the book hit the shelves this week.

“I condemn the book in the strongest terms,” Machel said in a statement released by her foundation on Friday. Ramlakan is the country’s former surgeon general and headed Mandela’s medical team till his death in 2013.

This book details the final years of Nelson Mandela up to his final moments where it was his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and not Graca Machel who was present as Madiba breathed his last.

The Department of Defence has distanced itself from the controversial book “Mandela’s Last Years”.

Penguin Random House South Africa (PRHSA) accepted Mandela’s Last Years for publication after the author Vejay Ramlakan advised PRHSA that he had received permission from Mr Mandela’s family to publish the book. Their representative was provided with a proof of the book.

In a statement released on Saturday‚ defence spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said the department “noted and completely distances itself” from media reports about the book.

“The department wishes to explicitly state that all views expressed in the book are those of the author and do not in any way or manner represent the department and the South African Military Health Service.

“The SANDF’s policy on patient-doctor confidentiality is in force‚ as such the views and patient doctor engagements expressed in the book have not been sanctioned by the senior cadre of the department and the SANDF respectively‚” Dlamini added.

The book contains never-before-published information on Madiba’s various health conditions‚ including that doctors were worried the former statesman ”might have died” when he stopped breathing on a chilly night in June‚ seven months before his December 2013 death.

In some extracts released to IndianSpice last week, Ramlakan writes about Mandela’s admission to Mediclinic Heart Hospital on June 8, in a “serious condition”.

Machel is adamant on her resolve that the book is a “breach of the doctor-patient relationship of confidentiality”.

Sources: TimesLIVE, Penguin Random House

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