Notes claim Makaziwe, Winnie backed book

30 July 2017 - 00:00 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER, PHILANI NOMBEMBE and MATTHEW SAVIDES
Makaziwe Mandela would not say whether she gave permission for the book.
Makaziwe Mandela would not say whether she gave permission for the book.
Image: Thembinkosi Dwayisa

Vejay Ramlakan did get permission from a member of the Mandela family for his book, Mandela's Last Years, but who that was remains a secret.

"I know who it is," said Tukwini Mandela. "But I'm not prepared to discuss that with you."

Tukwini is the daughter of Makaziwe Mandela, the eldest surviving child of Nelson Mandela.

Asked if her mother would talk about the speculation over the unidentified family member, Tukwini said: "She will not talk to you about that."

The Sunday Times has been given a copy of a handwritten message, claimed to be from Makaziwe, in support of the book.

The note is dated July 22, the day after Mandela's widow Graça Machel criticised the book's publication.

The book was withdrawn by publisher Penguin Random House this week after Machel and others threatened legal action, alleging a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Makaziwe's purported note appears to endorse Ramlakan's decision to write it.

"Be courageous and fearless. You did an excellent job of protecting my dad's dignity throughout his life. In fact without you the 'three musketeers', Tata would not have survived so long. I am with you all the way. Lots of love, god speed, be strong," it reads.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela apparently praised the book as 'great work'.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela apparently praised the book as 'great work'.
Image: James Oatway/Sunday Times

What is meant by the "three musketeers" is not known. It appears to be a reference to Mandela's core team of three doctors: Ramlakan, Steve Komati and Zola Dabula.

When contacted for comment, Makaziwe said: "Don't call me, please."

A second signed message given to the Sunday Times was apparently written by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who, according to the book, was holding Madiba's hand when he died.

Dated July 21, it reads: "To my adopted son Dr Ramlakan! With all my love and best wishes for this great work!"

Madikizela-Mandela's spokesman, Thato Mmereki, did not respond to questions sent to him.

But Madikizela-Mandela said in a statement on Wednesday that she had given her autograph to Ramlakan.

Attempts to get comment from Ramlakan were unsuccessful. Penguin Random House refused to answer questions about its efforts to verify Ramlakan's claim that he had the family's permission.

In the book, Ramlakan said he was satisfied that doctor-patient confidentiality had not been violated.