Exposing old truths in 600 page turner

Hennie van Vuuren, author of Apartheid Guns and Money, a Tale of Profit. Photo: Supplied

After five years of intensive research, anti-corruption activist Hennie van Vuuren has finally lifted the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes.

On 6 July, he launched his 600-page exposé, Apartheid Guns and Money, published by Jacana Media, at Melville’s Love Books.

The meticulously researched book weaves together a treasure trove of newly declassified documents and eyewitness accounts. The team of researchers for the book, including van Vuuren, was headed by Michael Marchant with Anine Kriegler and Murray Hunter.

Van Vuuren said the book revealed the government machinery that was created in defence of apartheid and in support of sanctions busting.

“This is an exposé of the people who profited: heads of states, arms dealers, aristocrats, plutocrats, senators, bankers, spies, journalists and members of secret lobby groups,” he added. “In creating the apartheid arms money machine they were complicit in a crime against humanity.”

At the jam-packed launch, book lovers from far and wide listened to the conversation between Van Vuuren and journalist, political commentator and online editor-at-large, Ferial Haffajee.

Intrigued by the explosive findings the book reveals, such as the role of banks, a secret international system used to break sanctions and a trail of R500 billion in money laundering, all ears were fixed on the hour-long conversation.

Van Vuuren is the director of Open Secrets, a non-profit organsiation with a mission to promote private sector accountability for economic crime and related human rights violations in Southern Africa. He argues that in the absence of accountability, corrupt networks of the past stay in business.

“Rather than face justice, they invite members of the new elite to the table,” he said.

After launching the book around the country, Van Vuuren said what was most apparent was the appetite that ordinary South Africans have to know the truth.

“This book helps unpack our past. We cannot simply move on if we do not know it.”

Van Vuuren said since the book’s release in May there had only been silence from people and companies implicated.


Bookworms gather for book launch 

Launching Umbilicus 

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Chantelle Fourie
Metro Reporter

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