An outlier in South Africa’s collective understanding of how apartheid operated has been around issues of corruption and economic crime. The failure to properly interrogate these economic crimes at the TRC or since has resulted in a gap in South Africa’s collective understanding of our past. It has also allowed a myth to develop in our democracy that corruption arrived on our doorstep with a democratically elected government in 1994.
In fact the apartheid economy had, over the period of two decades, built a vast and complex infrastructure to bust international weapons sanctions. It was nothing other than a criminal economy put in place to sustain white power. The machinery created was highly secretive and aided corrupt politicians, launder public and private funds, and break international sanctions. This effectively criminalised key institutions within the public and private sector.
This submission was made to the People’s Tribunal by Open Secrets to shine a light on the primary accomplices to this machinery. It considers the following key questions:
- Which private actors were key facilitators in busting the compulsory UN weapons embargo against the apartheid state?
- Do any of these actors face potential criminal or civil liability for their complicity?
- Can money laundering for the apartheid regime constitute aiding and abetting the crime of apartheid?
- Why has South Africa failed to grapple with the economic crimes of the past in the time of democracy?
- What continuities have there been in the networks of economic crime from apartheid to democratic South Africa?
In addition, the following witnesses made submissions on this case: Charles Abrahams, Adv Ndumisa Ntsebeza, Hennie van Vuuren, Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, and Adv Hermione Cronje.