Publisher withdraws book about Nelson Mandela's final days after family complaint

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mandela, pictured in May 2008
Image: SA Good News.

A book about Nelson Mandela's final days was withdrawn on Monday by publisher Penguin Random House South Africa after a complaint by Mandela's family. Mandela's Last Years was released on July 18, which is Nelson Mandela Day, and was written by the former South African President's physician, Dr. Vejay Ramlakan.

Penguin Random House released a statement confirming the withdrawal, saying they would issue no further copies. They also added 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".

Mandela's widow Graca Machel reportedly said, before the withdrawal, she was considering legal action. She claimed Ramlakan had breached patient confidentiality. Dr. Ramlakan has disputed this, saying he was given permission. In a television interview, he said "all parties who needed to be consulted were consulted."

Details within the book revealed information not previously disclosed including that Mandela was holding the hand of one of his ex-wives, Winnie, when he died. It also claims he once waited 30 minutes when an ambulance he was being transported in broke down and had to be replaced, and recounts discover of a spy camera in the morgue where his body was being held after he died.

Nelson Mandela died at age 95 on December 5, 2013.