One of the most alarming aspects of the unfolding “state capture” saga has been the discovery that once-reputable professions facilitated the looting. The boards and senior managements of crooked companies and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were heavily populated with chartered accountants who failed to discharge their oversight responsibilities. The SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), the bean counters’ professional body, then proved inept or impotent when it came to sanctioning accountants implicated in abuses at Steinhoff, Transnet, or Gupta-owned companies. Citizens were perhaps only a little surprised by the lamentable behaviour of so many accountants. They have been more deeply shocked by the role allegedly played by lawyers in the perpetration of looting and the obstruction of justice. Lawyers, it is true, have not been popular since at least the late 1500s in Western Europe. Their spread to the colonies, somewhat in the manner of a plague, was never destined to en...

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