Ramlakan was a distinguished Freedom Fighter

28 August 2020

Retired South African National Defence Force Surgeon-General, Lieutenant-General Vejay Ramlakan passed away on Thursday, 27 August 2020 at the age of 62.

Lieutenant-General Vejaynand Indurjith Ramlakan was a South African military commander. He was also a medical doctor who served in Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress, during the liberation struggle against the South African government in the 1980s, and transferred to the South African National Defence Force when MK was incorporated into it in 1994.

He first joined 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, General 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 (UDF). As part of the command structures of MK in the then province of Natal, Lt Gen Ramlakan was involved in MK Operation BUTTERFLY. He also held office as a member of the first APMC inside South Africa.

His continued military and active political involvement saw him being incarcerated on Robben Island between 1987 and 1991, where he was a member of the Central Political Education Committee. General Ramlakan served as Medical Commander at the ANC National Conference in 1991 and CODESA between 1991 and 1992 before he became Medical Commander for the President Mandela Guard in 1992. Between 1993 and 1994, he served as Deputy Chief of MK Health Service and led the MK military health team for integration into the NPKF and later the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The ANC's Pule Mabe said: “Dr Ramlakan was a freedom fighter in his own name and right who, at the height of repression, served as a member of Umkhonto WeSizwe charged with the responsibility of commanding Operation Butterfly, an underground command structure in the greater Durban area.

“Dr Ramlakan belongs to a coterie of distinguished freedom fighters who sacrificed their personal comfort for the liberation of the rest of SA’s people. We salute this outstanding activist of our struggle for liberation.”

General Ramlakan passed away from a suspected heart attack on the 27th of August 2020 in a Johannesburg hospital.