Publisher withdraws book on Madiba after outcry

Vijay Ramlakan.Picture: Deaan Vivier/Foto24
Vijay Ramlakan.Picture: Deaan Vivier/Foto24

The publisher of the controversial book Mandela’s Last Years has decided to “immediately withdraw” it from the trade.

Former president Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, had threatened to sue Mandela’s doctor Vejay Ramlakan over his newly released book.

Ramlakan detailed Mandela’s last years, including intimate moments, prior to his death.

Machel slammed the book, saying it was degrading and tarnished the image of the struggle icon.

“I condemn [the] book in the strongest terms. It is an affront to and an assault on the trust and dignity of my late husband ... It breaches the doctor-patient relationship of confidentiality and I am taking legal advice on whether to institute legal proceedings against the author and its publisher,” Machel said last week.

Penguin Random House South Africa decided on Monday to immediately withdraw the book.

“No additional copies will be issued. The publisher has done so out of respect for the late Mr Mandela’s family,” the publishing house’s publicist Surita Joubert said.

The cover of the controversial book, Mandela’s Last Years.

She indicated that Penguin had accepted Mandela’s Last Years for publication after Ramlakan advised the publisher that he had been requested by Mandela’s family to publish the book.

“The book was meant to portray Nelson Mandela’s courage and strength until the very end of his life, and was in no way intended to be disrespectful,” said Joubert.

“However, given the statements from family members, we have decided to withdraw the book.”

Read: Graça Machel threatens lawsuit against Mandela’s doctor over degrading book

Ramlakan was South Africa’s former surgeon-general and headed Mandela’s medical team till his death in 2013.

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