I was in the gallery at the Nugent commission on that dreadful morning of October 17 when SA Revenue Service (Sars) IT head Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane testified. As she began to speak, a feeling of hollowness invaded the gallery: it was not just me; it infected everyone in that room. And as she went on, one awful hour following the next, so the hollow feeling was replaced by excruciating discomfort. By the time the hearing broke for lunch, members of the audience could barely look one another in the eye. It was not until this moment that the full horror of what Jacob Zuma has done to SA came home to me. I don’t just mean what he has done to state institutions — the deliberate and calculated project to destroy the basic machinery of government. I mean what he has done to what happens inside our heads. Here was a woman running one of the most important pieces of the national bureaucracy — the infrastructure that makes it possible for the revenue service to collect duties and taxes. An...

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