Two decades after the fall of apartheid, the nation’s first female public protector tries to beat back corruption at the highest levels of government.
By ALEXIS OKEOWO
JUNE 16, 2015
The New York Times Magazine
On a cloudy morning in March last year, dozens of reporters, photographers and camera crews gathered in the vast building that houses the offices of Thulisile Madonsela, South Africa’s public protector. The journalists assembled that day were searched by security, stripped of their phones, pens, notebooks and recording equipment and told to take a seat in a conference room. Madonsela’s staff gave each of them a thick document numbering almost 450 pages. Her assistants were posted by the windows, making sure no one was secretly leaking information. Outside, riot officers in armored vehicles stood watch. “There’s about 100 people in the room,” recalled Ranjeni Munusamy, a well-known editor at The Daily Maverick, a South African newspaper. “Everyone’s quiet and flipping through pages, and now and then you look up to see who is on what page. I went right to the end to look at the findings. When I saw them, I wanted to scream.”
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