Publisher withdraws Mandela book

The controversial book, written by Vejay Ramlakan, details Madiba's state of health and his passing in 2013.

FILE: Nelson Mandela. Picture: Debbie Yazbek/Nelson Mandela Foundation.

JOHANNESBURG - Penguin Random House South Africa has decided to immediately withdraw the Mandela’s Last Years book written by Vejay Ramlakan.

The controversial book detailing Madiba's state of health and his passing in 2013 has been condemned by his widow, Graca Machel, who says the book breaches doctor-patient confidentiality.

On Monday afternoon, the publisher decided that no further copies will be issued out of respect for the Mandela family.

Penguin Random House says Ramlakan had stated that he had been requested by the Mandela family to publish the book.

The executors of Mandela’s estate and his grandson Mandla Mandela have distanced themselves from the book.

In it, Ramlakan details some of Madiba’s ailments, how an ambulance transporting the former president caught fire en route to hospital six months before his death and he reveals that a spy camera was found in the morgue where his body was being held.

The royal house of Mandela has welcomed the decision to immediately withdraw Mandela's Last Years.

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

Mandela’s Last Years also goes into detail about Madiba’s final days, claiming it was his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and not his widow Machel who was at his side when he passed.

Ramlakan saw nothing wrong with writing the book.

“This book is able to set the record straight and I used that term specifically. In the last few years, there have been a number of stories on what happened to him or there was speculation about his last days.”

The Mandela royal family said that it was deeply disappointed that the doctor has included information that may constitute a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.

On Friday, Machel said she was taking legal advice on whether to sue Ramlakan for the book.

She strongly condemned the book and believes it's an assault on the trust and dignity of her late husband.

Meanwhile, the Defence Department said that the views expressed in the newly published book had not been sanctioned by the department or the SANDF.

Defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said: “The department completely distances itself from the book. The department wants to explicitly state that all views in the book are those of the author and do not represent the DOD or South African Military Health Service.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)