Penguin pulls 'Mandela's Last Years' off shelves after family complains

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 24, 2017 12:24 PM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - 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, local media said.

Mandela, who led the country out of apartheid in 1994, died aged 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 local news agency Eye Witness News reported she was consulting her lawyers on whether or not to sue Ramlakan.

The agency also said Mandela's grandson and leader of the Madiba clan, Mandla Mandela, backed Machel taking legal action.

Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said the book should not have been published and that the foundation was not involved in its production. He welcomed it being removed 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 Mrs 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," Hatang said.

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

No Mandela family spokesperson was available for comment.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Louise Ireland)