Vejay Ramlakan was born in Durban in 1957 and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1977, undergoing military training in South Africa and in Swaziland. He studied medicine at the University of Natal and served as president of the Medical Students Representative Council from 1979 to 1980. He was a founding member of the United Democratic Front, and was involved in MK’s Operation Butterfly in Natal.
From 1987 to 1991 he was imprisoned on Robben Island, and after his release he served as medical commander at the 1991 ANC National Conference, at CODESA, and for the President Mandela Guard. In 1993 and 1994 he served as deputy chief of the MK Health Service and led the MK military health team for integration into the National Peacekeeping Force and later the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
From 2005 to 2013 he served as South Africa’s surgeon general, and in 2011 he was appointed as chief of corporate staff in the SANDF. He retired from the military in 2015.