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SANDF distances itself from Mandela book

The Defence Department has issued a statement distancing the military health service from a book about the final years leading up to Nelson Mandela’s death.

FILE: Late former president Nelson Mandela relaxes with his wife Graca Machel at his Houghton home in 2011. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Defence Department has issued a statement distancing the military health service from a book about the final years leading up to Nelson Mandela’s death.

The author, former surgeon-general of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Vejay Ramlakan headed, Mandela’s military medical team for about seven years.

The book has sparked controversy as the former president’s widow Graca Machel announced she’s taking legal advice on whether or not to sue Ramlakan for disclosing private details.

The Defence Department’s spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini says the views expressed in the book are solely those of the author.

“The SANDF has a policy on patient/doctor confidentiality. It’s enforced and as such the views and patient/doctor engagement expressed in the book have not been sanctioned by the senior cadre of the Department of defence and SANDF, respectively.”

Meanwhile, Machel has strongly condemned the book and believes it’s an assault on the trust and dignity of her late husband.

On Friday, Machel said the book written by Ramlakan breaches doctor-patient confidentiality.

Ramlakan describes how an ambulance transporting Mandela caught fire as it was rushing to hospital six months before he died.

In the book, Madiba's doctor also reveals that shortly after Mandela's death a spy camera was found in the morgue where his body was held.

Machel who married Madiba in 1998 says she's now taking legal advice about whether she should take action against Ramlakan and the publisher.

Mandela passed away in 2013, at the age of 95.

LISTEN: Doc sets record straight in 'Mandela's Last Days'

Additional reporting by Gia Nicolaides.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)