How to Steal a City is an insider account of this intervention,
which lays bare how the administration was entirely captured
and bled dry by a criminal syndicate, how factional politics within
the ruling party abetted that corruption, and how a
comprehensive clean-up was eventually conducted.
It is written as a gripping real-life thriller, taking the reader
deeper and deeper into the rotten heart of the city. As a former
senior government official and local government “fixer”, Crispian
Olver was no stranger to dealing with dodgy politicians and
broken organisations. Yet what he found was graft that went far
beyond the dodgy contracts, blatant conflicts of interest and
garden-variety kickbacks he had seen before. It had evolved into
a web far more sophisticated and deep rooted than he had ever
imagined, involving mazes of shell companies, assassinations,
criminal syndicates, and compromised local politicians. The metro
was effectively controlled by a criminal network, closely allied to
a dominant local ANC faction. What he found was complete state
capture—a microcosm of what has been happening in South
Africa’s national government.
But there was a personal price to pay. Intense political pressure
and threats to his personal safety took a toll on his mental and
physical health. He had to have a full-time bodyguard, and never
maintained a regular routine. He eventually lost much of his
political cover. Olver ultimately had to flee the city as the forces
stacked against him started to wreak their revenge.
This is his story.
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