The fact that state capture took place is no longer in dispute; it is the degree of damage that remains to be fully revealed. In tabulating the cost, judge Robert Nugent’s inquiry into the leadership of the SA Revenue Service (Sars) under commissioner Tom Moyane has already offered a fascinating, if petrifying, glimpse into a microcosm of this. How deep did state capture go? Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as the establishment of a parallel state, alongside government but more powerful. This was a planned, sustained and unopposed operation that set up, for criminals and looters, their own shadowy command and loyalty networks, with a honeycomb of rewards, job opportunities and personal favours. Through methodical appointments to high office, extensive access was gained to most of the crucial levers of power. Law-enforcement bodies were neutered. Perhaps a useful analogy for this parallel state would be the Mafia in certain US cities in the first half of the 20th cent...

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