SANDF Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Vejay Ramlakan has died at the age of 62 following a heart attack. He served as president Nelson Mandela’s personal physician apart from his service as the SANDF Surgeon General. He is also the author of the controversial book Mandela’s Last Years published by Penguin Random House. The Mandela family had objected Ramlakan’s book as it contained personal details of the late President Nelson Mandela.
Following the controversy, the book had been pulled from distribution “out of respect” for the Mandela family. According to Penguin Random House, Ramlakan had told them that the family of Madiba had granted him permission to write the book Mandela’s Last Years, but did not say specifically from whom. Ramlakan has witnessed first-hand what the former president experienced, the book had documented the complex medical challenges, the interactions between family members and staff, the constant scrutiny from the press, and the actions and responses of Mandela himself. Ramlakan was a founding member of the United Democratic Front and was involved in MK’s Operation Butterfly in Natal. From 1987 to 1991 he was imprisoned on Robben Island, and after his release, he served as medical commander at the 1991 ANC National Conference, at CODESA, and for the President Mandela Guard. In 1993 and 1994 he served as deputy chief of the MK Health Service and led the MK military health team for integration into the National Peacekeeping Force and later the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
From 2005 to 2013 he served as South Africa’s surgeon general, and in 2011 he was appointed as chief of corporate staff in the SANDF. He retired from the military in 2015. Ramlakan died at the age of 62 following a heart attack on Thursday, August 28, 2020.
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