The doctor who penned a tell-all book about statesman Nelson Mandela’s final days, Dr Vejay Ramlakan, has died aged 62.
The former surgeon general of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) died in a Johannesburg hospital of a suspected heart attack on Thursday.
The ANC’s Pule Mabe said: “Dr Ramlakan was a freedom fighter in his own name and right who, at the height of repression, served as a member of Umkhonto WeSizwe charged with the responsibility of commanding Operation Butterfly, an underground command structure in the greater Durban area.
“Dr Ramlakan belongs to a coterie of distinguished freedom fighters who sacrificed their personal comfort for the liberation of the rest of SA’s people. We salute this outstanding activist of our struggle for liberation.”
Until his death, Ramlakan was in the national executive of the Ex-Political Prisoners Association.
“May his family, friends and colleagues find solace in knowing their loss is the nation’s loss,” said Mabe.
Lakela Kaunda, who has served in the presidency since 2009, shared on Facebook that she would “always fondly remember his efficiency and effectiveness in providing support to us in the presidency when Madiba was critically ill”.
She said: “He was ever willing to assist, always friendly, humble and ready to patiently explain the medical terms. An officer and a gentleman in the true sense of the phrase. Farewell soldier. Your work is done. Give Madiba a big hug from all of us.”
In 2017, Ramlakan’s book Mandela’s Last Years was swiftly withdrawn from bookstore shelves after the Mandela family accused the author of breaching doctor-patient confidentiality and Mandela’s widow‚ Graça Machel‚ threatened to sue him. Madiba died in December 2013.