Local publisher Penguin Random House has taken the decision to withdraw their a recently-released book ‘Mandela’s Last Years’ from shelves after the former President’s widow, Graça Machel, expressed outrage and threatened the publisher with legal action stating that the book breached patient confidentiality.

The book, which was written by Mandela’s physician, Vejay Ramlakan, goes into detail about Mandela’s final years as well as his family’s bitter arguments as well as details about Mandela’s health.

After the legal action threatened by Graça, the publisher assured her that the book would be stripped off the shelves and no more copies would be printed or distributed. The publisher added that the book “was meant to portray Nelson Mandela’s courage and strength until the very end of his life, and was in no way intended to be disrespectful”.

The author, however, confirms that he had, in fact, received permission to write the book although refuses to reveal who gave him the said permission. “We received permission from the family,” he said on an interview on eNCA. “All parties who needed to be consulted were consulted. The story of Madiba’s last years is actually, in a sense, more impressive than when he was a fit human being.”

The Health Professions Council of South Africa’s Dr Kgosi Letlape says doctor-patient confidentiality must, at all times, be respected, even in death. “The issue of confidentiality is a core value of the profession. The values we hold dear are clinical autonomy, professionalism and confidentiality and the need for informed consent,” he said condemning the book. The executors in the estate of Nelson Mandela also admitted that permission was not sought from them adding that “the contents of the book are deeply regrettable, unfortunate and constitute unlawful disclosures.”

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