Mandela’s grandson praises his late doctor


NELSON Mandela’s grandson has paid a warm tribute to a medical doctor who looked after him until his last day.

Chief Mandla Mandela has described Dr Vejay Ramlakan, the retired surgeon-general who died after a heart attack, as a dedicated servant of the people.

Mandela, who is a chief at Mvezo – The Great Place, his grandfather’s birthplace – said: 

“Our nation has lost one of its finest sons who served our country with distinction as a member of the Military Health Services Unit. He was a dedicated servant of the people and served as Surgeon General under my grandfather President Nelson Rolihlahla  Mandela. 

“Lt General Ramlakan was born in Durban on the 27th September 1957 and was a loyal member of Umkonto We Sizwe (MK) where he served in the Butterfly Unit. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones in this hour of their bereavement.  On behalf of the Royal House of Mandela, we wish them every strength as they come to terms with this great loss.” 

Surgeon General Ramlakan responding to some of the questions from the media. Photo: GCIS

Friends, colleagues and fellow ANC members have also paid warm tributes to Ramlakan. They took to social media to pay tribute to him. Savesh Pather said: “In memory of one of the most bravest men I had the pleasure of working with, Lt General Vejay Ramlakan … RIP Commander.”

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The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said:  “Former MK, Robben Islander and the Surgeon General of the SANDF. Condolences to friends, family and comrades of Vijay. Hamba Kahle.”

Ramlakan was forced to withdraw a book that he had written – Mandela’s Last Days – after some members of the former president’s family, including his widow Graca Machel objected and said the book violated Mandela’s privacy.

Ramlakan was a veteran political activist with an impressive record. He was active in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland. 

He first joined ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) as an underground operative in Natal in 1977. During this period, he underwent general military training in South Africa and in Swaziland. At the University of Natal, Ramlakan served as the President of the Medical Students Representative Council 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. As part of the command structures of MK in the then province of Natal, Lt Gen Ramlakan was involved in MK Operation BUTTERFLY.

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