Rogues’ Gallery: An Irreverent History of Corruption in South Africa, from the VOC to the ANC

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If you reckon corruption in South Africa began with Zuma or even with apartheid, it’s time to catch a wake-up call. Rogues’ Gallery tells the story of some of the biggest skelms to grace our (un)fair shores, showing that dodgy dealings have been a national pastime for as long as South African history has been written down. Irreverent, entertaining and impeccably researched, Rogues’ Gallery busts the myth that the Zuptas were the first to capture the South African state, showing that corruption has always been around – and that the tricks politicians play haven’t changed a jot

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If you reckon corruption in South Africa began with Zuma or even with apartheid, it’s time to catch a wake-up call. Rogues’ Gallery tells the story of some of the biggest skelms to grace our (un)fair shores, showing that dodgy dealings have been a national pastime for as long as South African history has been written down. 

The action starts with the machinations of three colonial governors: rotten Willem Adriaan van der Stel and the ‘twaddling’ British duo, Sir George Yonge and Lord Charles Somerset. Added to this is Cecil John Rhodes’s unparalleled success in poisoning the land with theft, fraud and war, and Oom Paul Kruger’s corrupt and compromised Volksraads (official and unofficial).

Readers are then treated to apartheid’s finest feats in corruption: from the Broeder-bond’s perfect ten in state capture to the Department of Information’s peddling of fake news and the apartheid state’s manufacture of – no, not illegal cigarettes – Class A drugs! And let’s not forget the hotbed of corruption that was the ‘independent’ homelands. Add to this a few murders, plenty of nepotism and a state president who started out as a Nazi spy, and the gallery of rogues is complete. On the flipside, every chapter also features at least one brave whistle-blower – the true heroes of this book.

Irreverent, entertaining and impeccably researched, Rogues’ Gallery busts the myth that the Zuptas were the first to capture the South African state, showing that corruption has always been around – and that the tricks politicians play haven’t changed a jot.