On first reading the news about the investigations into Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, my jaw physically dropped. These accusations of corruption were on almost incomprehensible levels.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists were given access to more than 700,000 leaked documents about dos Santos’ financial activities which led to the charges being made against her. Her father is former Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos, who was in charge from 1979 to 2017 — and it was this connection that was at the heart of the allegations. 

The Luanda Leaks’ centre around dos Santos’ alleged role in a series of suspicious business deals involving eye-watering amounts of money, close personal connections and her ownership of certain organisations. Her fortune today totals around $2bn.

Perhaps the most shocking allegation is the charge that her company bought a square kilometre of beachfront in the capital city Luanda through presidential decrees signed by her father. BBC Panorama reported that the contract indicated the land was worth $96m, but the documents show her company only paid five per cent after agreeing to invest the rest in the development. 


Families were then evicted from their homes to make way for it. In another deal 500 families were reportedly displaced so building work could begin, and they now live beside an open sewer which floods regularly.

To be clear, Angola is one of the most socio-economically unequal countries in the world. The CMI research institute in Norway reported in 2017 that 20 per cent of the population with the highest incomes receive 59 per cent of all incomes, while the poorest 20 per cent receive only 3 per cent. Furthermore, the World Bank reported that 30 per cent of Angola’s population experience serious material poverty — on incomes less than $1.90 a day.

On reading this story, my mind turned to a passage in the New Testament: But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14 – 15).

If what Isabel dos Santos has been accused of is true, it clearly exemplifies how one small compromise can grow and grow as more audacious actions become more acceptable to us if they serve our self-interest. You may not consciously think about it, but as humans we are wired to worship. To love. To serve. 

The problem is that we worship, love and serve good things God has created (e.g. wealth, sex, power, ourselves) instead of God Himself. Undoubtedly, the Bible describes this as idolatry, which is sinful.

This passage is one of countless examples of how intricately the Bible exposes and understands our human nature. And it can do this because it is the word of God, the word of our creator who made us in His image. What James makes clear is that sin leads to death” — separation from God both on earth now and in the future when our lives here come to an end.

We long for justice. We become engrossed in films, books and TV series as we want the criminal to be caught, the villain to be brought low, the world to be made right. And one day those who have caused misery and pain to many people through their actions will be held to account, be it through a court of law on earth, or before God. 

But in order to have perfect justice, then how is someone to be made right before God? For the uncomfortable truth is this, we may not have murdered, stolen, cheated on our partners (or we may have), but we know that all of us have lived for ourselves in ways that both have hurt others and separated us from God.

Yet the incredible news is that in Jesus Christ, we canhave perfect justice. For He died in place of us on the cross. Jesus lived a perfect life because He was God here on earth. He didn’t sin. Having faith in Jesus that He took the punishment for our sin against God is the way through which He so lovingly made to make us right before Him. 

Therefore, one day there will be perfect justice — those who have done wrong will be called to account; and we ourselves who have also done wrong will be brought back to God through the work of Jesus. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

This is the hope for the people of Angola who suffer every day more than most of us in the UK can ever imagine as a result of corruption and greed. God hears their pleas for justice. It will come. Likewise, we pray that those who have exploited and lived for themselves in their power and wealth would humble themselves in light of what Jesus has done for us — just like Paul who wrote this verse above, who before his conversion facilitated the stoning of Christians from a position of authority. Perfect justice is coming, and we long for that day.

Image: © Nuno Coimbra on Wikimedia Commons