How To Steal A Country

Jacob Richardson | 17/05/2020

A compelling and shocking documentary.

How To Steal A Country - Jacob Zuma.jpg

This documentary tells the tale of the Gupta family, who start as shoe salesmen in a market and wind up becoming the heads of a major business empire in South Africa, in under 10 years. The family partners with former South African President Jacob Zuma to steal approximately 1 trillion South African Rand through something called ‘state capture’. Zuma faces some small measure of justice, but the Gupta family still roams free in Dubai. 


How to Steal A Country is directed by Rehad Desai and Mark Kaplan (who has won an Emmy for some of his other work), and utilises a clever combination of interviews and archival footage to create a compelling investigative thriller that keeps you hooked throughout. Backed with an intriguing soundtrack, and very well paced, you can’t help but be sucked in to this South African doco. It is slick, and elegant, and feels remarkably professional. 


Admittedly, the documentary is unable to secure interviews with many of the key players. Indeed, the closing credits have a list of names and companies who declined to be interviewed. In some respects, that makes this documentary feel a little surface-level and unfinished. That being said, however, it replaces the figureheads not just with a uniquely competent mix of archival footage, previous interviews, and raid footage, but also interviews with many of the brave journalists who took this scandalous partnership down in South Africa. The documentary serves as a testament to independent journalism, and the benefits of and absolute need for whistle-blowers.


Compelling, comprehensive and sleek - this documentary tells a remarkably shocking tale of political corruption that you might never have heard of.