Whether it is called ‘State Capture’, a mafia state, political corruption, grand corruption, kleptocracy, or ‘institutionalised corruption’, this problem is a huge threat to democracy. It is not just a case of corrupt transactions: entire public institutions and whole States are taken hostage. Power is abused, money stolen, policies misdirected, and public institutions undermined. This impacts on state stability, public service provision, social trust, economic inequality and law and order. The longer this goes on, the worse it gets.

So what is State Capture? How does it work and how do you detect it? Nicky Prins, a seasoned State Capture Specialist takes you behind the scenes of what happened in South Africa. A visual tour will show you all the angles: High level overviews of the landscape, vertical slices into a state-owned entity and horizontal slicing across functions will explain how the how the pattern was found, how the criminal enterprise was identified, and its modus operandi.


Nicky Prins is a former senior official of South Africa’s National Treasury, who experienced State Capture under the Zuma administration. From the controversial ‘nuclear deal’ to other mega-projects and deals that were suspected of being pushed by vested interests, she worked in close proximity with Treasury’s embattled leadership as it came under political attack. Nicky then joined efforts by civil society to study and expose State Capture. This resulted in the publication of reports and books and support to a Parliamentary Inquiry into State Capture into Eskom (the national electricity supplier). Between 2018 and 2022 she was Head of the Research Team at the State Capture Commission where she was involved in investigations planning and research, conducting evidence analysis, producing ‘Big Picture’ overviews and contributing to final reports for the Chief Justice. 

Nicky continues to study State Capture, is currently writing a book about fighting State Capture, and has innovated an online Early Warning System based on her learnings. She also maintains an interest in investigations and assists with initiatives aimed at reforms. Understanding, disrupting and creating resilience against State Capture and Corruption is her ongoing passion.

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