The testimony of Government Communication & Information System (GCIS) official Phumla Williams to the state capture commission was interrupted by an interesting aside. Judge Raymond Zondo asked counsel leading the evidence whether testimony about the mismanagement of personnel was relevant to the commission’s terms of reference. The reply was that it was because — and I am paraphrasing the very articulate reply offered by Kate Hofmeyr — the destruction of the department would in time be shown to be a necessary step for it to fall under the control of the Guptas. And so, for six years, no director-general was appointed and Williams — who had to stand in — was stripped of key responsibilities and demeaned by the minister, Faith Muthambi. Williams, who as an ANC activist was "tortured for weeks" by the police, now found herself the victim of a new kind of torture — bureaucratic disempowerment.

"The effects of my torture were back. I was no longer sleeping, I had nightmares. My fa...

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