The Department of Defence (DoD) has distanced itself from a book written by former Surgeon General and Chief: Corporate Services of the SA National Defence Force relating events prior to the death of Nelson Mandela, democratic South Africa’s first president.
The book “Mandela’s Last Years” was authored by now retired lieutenant general Vejay Ramlakan, who headed the SA Military Health Services team that cared for Mandela before he died on December 5, 2013.
“The DoD wishes to explicitly state that all views expressed in the book are those of the author and do not in any way or manner represent the DoD and the South African Military Health service (SAMHS). The SANDF`s policy on ‘patient/doctor confidentiality’ is in force and as such, the views and patient/doctor engagements expressed in the book have not been sanctioned by the senior cadre of the DoD and the SANDF respectively,” a statement issued by DoD head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini, said.
Ramlakan retired from the SANDF in 2015 just on four months after a discussion about “normal career management with SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke. At that time he had already retired from the SANDF where he was serving as Chief: Corporate Services having handed over leadership of SAMHS to Lieutenant General Aubrey Sedibe.
Ramlakan was apparently involved in a furore around the presidential homesteads, Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal and was called to give evidence before an internal SANDF board of inquiry.
A DoD statement issued at that time was rebutted by the former Surgeon General who issued a statement of his own. This indicated, among others, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into Nkandla found the DoD acted correctly.
“No evidence of corruption or transgression was found simply because no Department of Defence official was involved in such activities. The SIU report in paragraph 11 states ‘the SANDF requirements were quite separate and appear to have been handled quite correctly’,” according to Ramlakan’s statement.
He also hit back at a newspaper report claiming he would be asked to take early retirement because of his involvement with at least some of the upgrades at Nkandla.
Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, and the Mandela family have indicated they are looking at taking legal action against Ramlakan for the book which was released on Friday.