CULTURE AND ARTS

S. Africa: Publisher withdraws Mandela book off shelves

Book written by Mandela's former surgeon angered family

Anadolu Agency

Publishers of a controversial book that gives health details of former South African President Nelson Mandela have withdrawn it from the shelves after criticism from the iconic figure’s family.

Publisher Penguin Random House South Africa said in a statement Monday that it had decided to immediately withdraw the book, Mandela’s Last Years, saying no more copies would be distributed.

“The publisher has done so out of respect for the late Mr. Mandela’s family,” the statement said.

The book written by a former surgeon of the late president angered the Mandela family that said it violated the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Dr. Vijay Ramlakan, who headed Mandela’s medical team until his death, wrote in the book that family disagreements had a negative effect on the former president's health in his final months.

He also wrote that an ambulance transporting him from his Johannesburg home to Pretoria, during his final months, caught fire on the highway forcing the former president to wait half an hour for another ambulance.

The surgeon also gave chilling details about Mandela’s health condition during his last days. He also said it was Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was beside him when he died in hospital.

Mandela’s widow Graca Machel and grandson Chief Mandla Mandela had threatened to sue the publisher in separate statements over the weekend.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing white minority rule, became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994. He succumbed to a lung infection in December 2013, aged 95.

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