Mandela book withdrawn after outrage from Graça Machel

A new book detailing Nelson Mandela’s last days has been withdrawn after it was condemned by his outraged widow, publisher Penguin Random House said Monday.

The book by Mandela’s physician Vejay Ramlakan was released last week to coincide with the late anti-apartheid leader’s birthday on July 18, which is marked each year as Mandela Day.

It revealed several undignified episodes at the end of Mandela’s life as well as bitter family squabbles over his care and legacy, prompting fury from his widow Graça Machel who threatened legal action.

The company said it had decided “to immediately withdraw the book Mandela’s Last Years from the trade, and no further copies will be issued.”

It added that 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.”


Machel accused Ramlakan, a former military surgeon, of breaching patient confidentiality.

The book detailed how Mandela regurgitated blood due to a lung infection and disclosed that after his death at the age of 95, a spy camera was found in the morgue where his body was held.

It also revealed that an ambulance transporting Mandela to hospital during his final months caught fire on the highway forcing him to wait for a backup.

Machel said she had not been consulted, though Ramlakan claimed that the book had been approved.

“We received permission from the family,” the author told local television eNCA before the withdrawal. “All parties who needed to be consulted were consulted.”

“The story of Madiba’s last years is actually, in a sense, more impressive than when he was a fit human being,” he added, paying tribute to his “unconquerable fortitude”.

The icon’s eldest grandson Mandla Mandela welcomed the decision to pull the controversial book which he described as “abuse of Mandela name and legacy.”

He said withdrawing the book sent out “a loud and clear message that some things are worth more than money.”

The executors of Mandela’s estate said in a statement that the book’s content’s were “deeply regrettable and unfortunate and constitute unlawful disclosures.”

They said neither Penguin nor Ramlakan had sought consent from them or Machel before publishing the book.

Mandela, often known by his clan name Madiba, died on December 5 2013, at the age of 95.

Penguin Random House did not say how many copies of the book had already been sold.

Mandela married Machel, his third wife and the widow of Mozambique president Samora Machel, in 1998. – Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse works from worldwide. AFP Photo's official Twitter account. Tweeting news and features from Agence France-Presse's global photo network Agence France Presse has over 120540 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Dance with the ‘devil’: Why SA has fought off the IMF for so long

The ANC has, until now, always rejected going to the International Monetary Fund, which underscores how bad our economic situation is

‘Prisoner 913’: The long, zigzagging path to Mandela’s release

A new book draws on the secret archive of NP justice minister Kobie Coetsee to paint a detailed picture of the lead-up to Nelson Mandela’s release. Shaun de Waal spoke to co-author Riaan de Villiers

Cameroon is a ship without a captain

Ahead of planned protests, Cameroon’s main opposition leader argues that change is more urgent than ever

Yes, Cote D’Ivoire’s president is running for a third term. But this time it’s different

COMMENT: A senior Ivorian government official argues that President Alassane Ouattara is within his rights to run again

George’s holiday in Greece with Madiba

In his book 65 Years of Friendship: A memoir of my friendship with Nelson Mandela, George Bizos tells of their only holiday together

Achmat Dangor: On writing and change

Celebrated author and political activist Achmat Dangor died on Sunday at the age of  71. Here, in a 1990 interview published in Staffrider, he speaks to Andries Walter Oliphant about his work and aspects of South African literature and culture
Advertising

Subscribers only

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday