Riaz Saloojee must have felt optimistic about the future when he stepped off the plane from London in September 2015, returning from the world’s largest arms bazaar with public enterprises minister Lynne Brown. Under Saloojee’s leadership weapons maker Denel’s aggressive marketing forays into the Middle East and Latin America were beginning to bear fruit. In 2012 he had taken over an ailing state entity that needed government bailouts to stay afloat. Since then Denel’s revenues had almost doubled, profits had grown close to seven-fold and its order book stood at a record R35bn. Brown was so pleased with Saloojee’s performance that she wanted him to stay on for another five years after his contract as chief executive expired in January 2016. But back in Denel’s boardroom a shadowy cast of newly appointed directors had other ideas. Judging by the events that followed, their first task was to remove Saloojee (a former Umkhonto weSizwe commander) to pave the way for a dubious deal worth...

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