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R580m — that is how much SA taxpayers have spent on inquiries into the Marikana massacre, free tertiary education and the arms deal, and will now spend on the commission into state capture. Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo stated in May that his investigation would cost R230m for the first six months of its existence, making it the most expensive inquiry in recent history. But, while these four major inquiries were and are intended to investigate some of SA’s most significant sources of socioeconomic and political crises, it is unclear if the millions spent on them have achieved any real outcomes. Arguably one of the biggest criticisms of the effectiveness of commissions is that the executive is not obliged to act on their recommendations. They can consider them, but decide not to implement them. Judge Willie Seriti’s four-year-long inquiry into SA’s multibillion-rand arms deal cost R137m — and has been slammed as a whitewash. That inquiry, which found no evidence of fraud or corr...

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