It was more than two years ago that the Hawks arrested Gupta family members in a blaze of publicity, only for the Estina dairy project scam case against the family and their associates to collapse spectacularly months later.

The Estina prosecution debacle powerfully illustrated the danger of the state launching cases, in the context of seismic political shifts, that were not backed up by the evidence needed to ensure convictions. The Hawks had arrested members of the Gupta network just hours before then president Jacob Zuma, their once-close friend, stepped down. That timing was arguably telling...

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