Penguin pulls Mandela book off shelves on family complaints

JOHANNESBURG • Publisher Penguin on Monday pulled a book about Nelson Mandela off the shelves after the widow and family of South Africa’s former president complained that the doctor who wrote the book had not been given permission to do so, the local media said.

Mandela, who led the country out of apartheid in 1994, died at age 95 in 2013 after a prolonged illness, and his doctor, Vejay Ramlakan, details the end of his life in the book, Mandela’s Last Years.

At the time, reports swirled that Mandela was on life support and being kept alive for political ends.

His widow Graca Machel was not immediately available for comment, but news agency Eye Witness News reported that she was consulting her lawyers on whether or not to sue Dr Ramlakan.

The agency also said his grandson and leader of the Madiba clan, Mr Mandla Mandela, backed her taking legal action.

Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said that the book should not have been published and that the foundation was not involved in its production.

He welcomed its removal from sale.

“At the moment we have been systematically going through the book. When we are done, we will publish a list of inaccuracies in the book,” he said.

“Indications from Ms Machel at the moment is that there was a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality and we believe she’s within her rights to pursue legal recourse,” he added.

In a televised interview on news channel eNCA on Sunday, Dr Ramlakan said he had received permission to write the book from the Mandela family, but refused to say who it was specifically.

No Mandela family spokesman was available for comment.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'Penguin pulls Mandela book off shelves on family complaints'. Print Edition | Subscribe