This story was reported, written and edited over the course of seven months. Sharife interviewed more than two dozen current and former officials of the South African government, independent experts on the diamond trade and current and former employees of the diamond industry, including DeBeers.
She sought comment from De Beers, intensively, from November 2013. Most interview requests were politely acknowledged, but declined, with the information deemed proprietary and confidential.
Sharife also sought information from the Government Diamond Valuator over a period of three months. The valuator initially responded with a prepared statement, but failed to answer in-depth follow-up questions.
Various government departments, including the Department of Mineral Resources, were very helpful in supplying reports not available on the website, as well as responses.
The picture of a South African regulatory and taxation system that has allowed the diamond industry to pay little in export taxes and royalties emerged from data drawn from the following documents and websites:
- South African Diamond and Precious Metal Regulator annual reports
- Kimberly Process, annual data on values and volumes of country-specific imports, exports and production
- Tax Statistics Report, published on the Treasury
South African Mineral Industry annual reports, published by the Department of Mineral Resources
- De Beers annual reports, published by the company, among others
Other helpful websites included the Diamond Mines Director, The Department of Mineral Resource’s Diamond Handbook and Operating Resources and Stats SA for financial statistics and other data.
As she reported this story for 100Reporters, Sharife also co-authored a related report on transfer pricing manipulation in the diamond industry, funded by Oxfam Great Britain and published by the Leverhulme Center for the Study of Value at the University of Manchester.