Here you will find our investigative reports, book contributions, journal articles as well as contributions to publications series.

apartheid guns and money: a tale of profit

Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit is an exposé of the machinery created in defence of apartheid,  sanctions-busting, and the people who profited from it: heads of states, arms dealers, aristocrats, plutocrats, senators, bankers, spies, journalists and members of secret lobby groups. In creating the apartheid arms money machine they were complicit in a crime against humanity. Whistle-blowers were assassinated and ordinary people suffered. Finally, this network of profit is revealed.

In over 600 pages, this meticulously researched book lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes, weaving together a treasure trove of newly declassified documents and eyewitness accounts.


the enablers

the bankers, accountants and lawyers that cashed in on state capture

investigative report

The Enablers focuses on the role of banks, accounting firms, consultants and lawyers in facilitating criminal conduct that formed part of the state capture enterprise. This investigative report shows that the systems that enable grand corruption and state capture are global in nature, and that private sector elites are central to the problem. Removing corrupt politicians from office and holding them to account is only the first difficult step. Directors of complicit corporations in South Africa and abroad must be held to account too. Further, to guard against state capture, it is imperative that we change the rules of a secretive international financial system in which private actors profit immensely from enabling corruption. This investigative report is intended to provide the evidence and analysis to assist Justice Zondo and the Commission with this pressing task in 2020.


the enablers

the bankers, accountants and lawyers that cashed in on state capture

the bottom line: who profits from unpaid pensions?

investigative report

This investigative report is the culmination of a year-long investigation by Open Secrets into role of corporations in the erroneous cancellation of pension funds between 2007-2013. The Bottom Line focusses on the role played by the big corporations who administer these funds, such as Liberty Corporate and Alexander Forbes. The report also looks into the role of the regulator in creating an enabling environment for the ‘Cancellations Project’.

According to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s 2018 Annual Report, over R42 billion in benefits is owed to over 4 million pensioners and pension fund members.The Bottom Line also profiles the stories of the pensioners affected by unpaid benefits.

Alongside the investigative report, we have created a booklet that hones in on the experiences of the individual pensioners we spoke to. This booklet looks beyond the bottom line. It centres the stories of the most vulnerable members of our society, those who have been systematically and structurally precluded from enjoying civil and human rights throughout South Africa’s history


the bottom line

who profits from unpaid pensions?


look beyond the bottom line

this booklet accompanies The Bottom Line

the corporations and economic crime report

report series

The Corporations and Economic Crime Report (CECR) explores the most egregious cases of economic crimes and corruption by private financial institutions, from apartheid to the present day. In doing so, we aim to highlight the key themes that link corporate criminality across these periods of time, focusing on the role of the private sector, a critical blind spot in the discourse around economic crime.

This publication interrogates the failure of state institutions and regulators to ensure accountability for corporate economic crimes, and considers the often enormous social and economic costs to which these crimes contribute. It will form part of an annual series that tackles issues of corporate crime head-on, and generates public discussion around an alternative take on the often state-centric perception of corruption.


volume 1: the bankers

this first volume of the series focuses on the role of banks and other financial sector actors in corporate criminality

'nothing is illegal if one hundred businessmen decide to do it'

joining the dots

people's tribunal report

This report introduces the cases heard at the first people’s tribunal on economic crime in south africa, and explains the need to join the dots between past and present corruption. This report should therefore be read as an introduction to the cases, not a finding. It urges the reader to join the dots connecting the long shadow of economic crime among the business and political elites in South Africa and around the world. It was compiled by Open Secrets, as Secretariat of the People’s Tribunal. The Tribunal is jointly organised by the following civil society organisations: Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Corruption Watch, Foundation for Human Rights, Open Secrets, Public Affairs Research Institute, Right2Know Campaign.


joining the dots: the long shadow of economic crime in south africa

'nothing is illegal if one hundred businessmen decide to do it'



Perspectives is a publication series of the Africa offices of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The series provides a platform for experts from Africa to express their views about issues pertinent to the democratic and sustainable development agenda in the region.

Open Secrets’ Michael Marchant and Mamello Mosiana contributed an article in Robbin’ the Hood, the August 2019 edition of Perspectives on state capture and how the concept can contribute to understanding and strengthening democracies across Africa. Their article, ‘Greasing the Wheels of State Capture: Corporations Secrecy and Profit’, looks at the role of the private sector and the global financial economy in facilitating state capture in South Africa.

PARI conference 2018: state capture and its aftermath

conference papers

Open Secrets contributed two papers to the Public Affairs Research Institute’s (PARI): State Capture and its Aftermath conference. The first is a paper by Hennie van Vuuren and Michael Marchant- South Africa’s Deep State and the Arms Trade: Apartheid to Today. The second paper by Khuraisha Patel and Michael Marchant- In Pursuit of Democratic Renewal: Alternative Methods for Securing Corporate Accountability. The conference ran from the 22nd to the 24th of October 2018, it featured 17 panels and roundtables on the aftermath of state capture in various areas of the state and civil society.

south africa's deep state and the arms trade: apartheid to today

by Hennie van Vuuren and Michael Marchant


It is trite to say that one cannot understand corruption and state capture in South Africa purely by considering the period after 1994. There is a growing recognition among South Africans that contemporary challenges of corruption and state capture are deeply rooted in our history. The white apartheid state was itself captured by a powerful conservative network that derived profit from propping up that regime, and that was only marginally disrupted by a formal change in government. This paper argues that the continuities between apartheid and post-apartheid ‘state capture’ are best understood by examining the ‘deep state’ in South Africa. By ‘deep state’, we refer broadly to the secretive networks that operate behind the scenes of formal power, to pursue a specific agenda. These networks include corporations, financial institutions, intelligence agencies and politicians. Where their interests intersect, there is a powerful capacity to subvert the state for private gain and to undermine state institutions tasked with oversight and accountability.

in pursuit of democratic renewal: alternative methods for securing corporate accountability

by Khuraisha Patel and Michael Marchant


Labelling South Africa as a ‘post-apartheid’ or ‘post-conflict’ society has been accompanied by much critique. South Africa is still transitioning. In its quest for transitional and contemporary justice, South Africa has employed various legal and social processes to deal with its legacy, and indeed current state of racialised violence and exclusion. Most well-known is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Seriti and Marikana Commissions of Inquiry and most recently, the state’s prosecution of former President Jacob Zuma and the French arms corporation Thales in relation to the 1999 Arms Deal. These mechanisms have proven to be ineffective in securing accountability and have been tainted by undue process. The important question that follows is whether there are more transparent, inclusive socio-legal processes that can be pursued to ensure public and private sector accountability for so-called historic and contemporary economic crimes and ‘state capture’. With reference to the First People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime and the OECD Complaint against Kredietbank Luxembourg and KBC Group, Open Secrets conceptualises the use of these two quasi-legal tools as a potential answer to the above question.

fact sheets and infographics

Cancelled pensions: explanatory pamphlet (English, isiZulu, and seSotho)

OECD complaint: fact sheet and timeline

the people's tribunal on economic crime: fact sheet on the final findings

apartheid guns and money: graphics

open sources

open sources contains investigative information and tools to empower those who are interested in holding the corrupt to account.


digital security

At Open Secrets, we rely on a variety of digital security tools to do our work. Below you will find some of those that we use on an everyday basis.