Fact File: Lt Gen (Dr) V.I. Ramlakan, DMG, MMS, MMB, OStJ

Lieutenant General Vejaynand “Vejay” Indurjith Ramlakan was born in Durban in 1957 and is South Africa’s first black Surgeon General (SG).
Ramlakan was schooled in Durban and matriculated at Naidoo Memorial High in Umkomaas in 1974. He obtained his basic medical degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in 1980. His further health qualifications include a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Service Management as well as training by the IRCT in Copenhagen, Denmark, to counsel victims of political violence.
The SG`s non-medical qualifications include an Executive Course in Defence Management from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1998 and a certificated Programme in Financial Management from UNISA in 2002.
 He joined uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) as an underground operative in KZN in 1977. During this period, he underwent general military training in South Africa and in Swaziland. At the University of KZN, Ramlakan served as the President of the MSRC from 1979 to 1980.
From 1981 until 1983, he was Vice President and General Secretary of the Natal Health Worker`s Association, and also a founding member of the United Democratic Front (UDF). As part of the command structures of MK in the then province of Natal, Ramlakan was involved in MK Operation Butterfly. He also held office as a member of the first Area Political Military Council inside South Africa.
His continued military and active political involvement saw him being incarcerated on Robben Island between 1987 and 1991, where he was a member of the Central Political Education Committee. Ramlakan served as Medical Commander at the ANC National Conference in 1991 and the Congress for a Democratic SA (CODESA) between 1991 and 1992 before he became Medical Commander for the President Mandela Guard in 1992.
Between 1993 and 1994, he served as Deputy Chief of MK Health Service and led the MK military health team for integration into the National Peacekeeping Force and later the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
In the SANDF, he has held the following positions: Director Planning of the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) between Oct 1994 and Nov 1995; Inspector General of the SAMHS from December 1999 to February 2000; GOC Area Military Health Formation from February to November 2000; Inspector General DOD from November 2000 until December 2004; and SANDF’s Chief Director Strategic Planning from January 2005 to his appointment as Surgeon General.
Since the establishment of the SANDF, Ramlakan successfully completed the following courses: Officers’ Formative Course in 1995; Battle Handling in 1995; Junior Command & Staff Duties Course (JCS) in 1996; SMC & SD (including PSO and Joint Ops Certificate) as well as the Executive National Joint Staff Course in 1997.

Ramlakan was awarded the following military medals: Unitas; Order of St John (UK); Merit Medals: Bronze, Silver and Gold; Internal RSA Operational Medal and the External to RSA Operational Medal. His other special awards include the Edgar Brookes Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Freedom and Endeavour.

As IG DOD, Ramlakan received the international ISO 9001:2000 award. This was the first ever awarding of this prestigious quality award by the ISO to a South African government entity.

General Ramlakan is married and has three children.