Graca Machel threatens to sue Mandela's doctor over book on his 'last years'

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The late former president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel. (Pierre-Philippe Marcou, AFP)
The late former president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel. (Pierre-Philippe Marcou, AFP)

Johannesburg – Former president Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, has slammed the newly-released book, Mandela’s Last Years, by his doctor Vejay Ramlakan, and is considering suing.

"I condemn the book in the strongest terms," Machel said in a statement released by her foundation on Friday.

Ramlakan is the country’s former surgeon general and headed Mandela’s medical team till his death in 2013.

His book details Mandela’s last years, including intimate moments just before his death. In some extracts released to News24 this week, Ramlakan writes about Mandela’s admission to Mediclinic Heart Hospital on June 8, in a "serious condition".

Ramlakan also details some of Madiba's ailments, including stomach and ulcer bleeding and a lung infection.

"On the previous night, we surmised, a sudden ulcer bleed and concomitant lung infection had probably caused an aspiration from blood that was being regurgitated," an extract of the book reads.

Ramlakan also talks about the pressure from the media that had gathered outside the hospital, seeking information on the health of Mandela.

Machel is threatening legal action, saying the book is a "breach of the doctor-patient relationship of confidentiality".

"I am taking legal advice on whether to institute legal proceedings against the author and its publisher," Machel said.

In another extract, the Sowetan reports that Ramlakan lays bare minor disagreements between Mandela’s doctors, staff and his family members.

Machel said she would meet with the executors of Madiba’s will – Justice Dikgang Moseneke, George Bizos SC and Judge Themba Sangoni on how to "best protect Madiba’s good name and reputation".

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