I often say that the law is neutral, it can be twisted to suit you, abused even and used as a protective measure or for pure vindictiveness. But it must be used, it cannot come to life by itself, it must be invoked by you or it stays a piece of paper read by boring people and argued about for ridiculous fees by even more boring people. This is our system and it is a good one for the unfair times we live in and we do live in times which some say wrongly is the end of times – it is not. Tribulations on earth was promised and by God, we got such things aplenty, make peace or see your lawyer.
We also have in law what is known as the great BMW Case (by myself). This is where you have toxic clients. You know them, they are getting divorced and they are as nasty as can be, not willing to back down an inch. Most of them are so unreasonable that the poor attorney having to talk to them at times, increases his fees to compensate for the filth (negative energy) coming from them (called an aggravation fee). They take a perverse pleasure in destroying the one they once, presumably, loved and had children by or with. They even walk around and tell their best female friends how much their lawyer is costing them, as if it is another trophy in their tiresome lives. Frankly, as I said in my legal books, they are fools. Only one person wins in such cases and that is the lawyer now driving a new BMW because you are foolish. Settle and get done, let it go and carry on with your life and remember, a good settlement is where both parties are most unhappy (yes, give and take). I don’t deal with divorces, thank God again, and these days I am less boring (I was told this, that alone, I am sure, says it all).
Another way to create a toxic environment and this is epidemic in South Africa these days, are racism calls every five seconds. You see it everywhere. Whenever a man or woman dares to criticize or express an opinion, guess what, RACIST! That is the new rally cry of the defeated and we saw it with Gareth Whatever, I don’t listen or follow the man and his untalented television show. We saw it with Standard Bank and no doubt we saw it with serving Cabinet ministers attending boxing matches in the US. Any type of critique on what 22 years of freedom brought, and you are RACIST! Automatically so, and damn the facts, you are RACIST!
It is getting boring, such calls and accusations, to be honest. Especially when it is abused to cover for undoubted incompetence. This country is in deep trouble and let us not fool ourselves. I am often asked by some, should we leave or should we go – the answer is always the same, get! This by the way is the shortest English language sentence known to man, go. You have to be boring to know such things but I know other things also. I see the desperate homeless, I see the desperate poor and I see the price increases month after month and I see pensioners struggling to eat. And so yes, I say, go! Get yourself a decent life somewhere else. Does that make me a racist or a realist with no confidence in the leadership? You decide, I don’t serve mammon and hence cannot care but others do. To call a man (I include the improved second attempt) a “racist” when he is not one, is a crime against humanity and as serious as it gets. Especially in a country with our history such cries, when not true, is insulting, defamatory and a reason to sue. Yet, as we saw in recent times, the big corporates do not investigate properly - they fire and offer apologies immediately (whining) even when wrong and the fired fellow innocent as accused, if not charged yet. In fact, I have to wonder what legal advice these corporates get because it is universally pathetic. First we saw the Isuzu fiasco, where a man displayed his broken four-wheel drive next to the road in the nineties I think, they tried an interdict, they failed. Then we saw Cell C make utter asses of themselves in court over the banner incident a few years ago. We saw the Gareth Whatever fiasco this year and so the list goes on with Standard Bank the latest to whine and apologise. A clear pattern is emerging – “we apologise first, fire the person involved, issue whinging statements and then go to court to defend our rights.”
I hope you see the pattern also but if not, let me explain. Every time here, they went on the offensive, acting decisively, apology, firing, interdict. And every time they lost in court afterwards. Isuzu, Cell C and Mnet lost and ate humble pie in court, paying thousands in lost legal fees and yet they are not learning. The Standard Bank saga did not go to court but if it did, they probably would have lost too. Who made money here? Ah yes, the lawyers. Interesting, you give pathetic advice and you make money? That is our system folks, live with it.
There must be a certain amount of robustness in a democracy, really, you must be able to take a few punches and allow the other side to call you a turd because you float in what you talk, or whatever. This is not, repeat not, hate speech and hate speech depends very much on how the words were said (joke in poor taste?), past discretions (pattern) and also context (what was meant), not only the words and inherently boring people like lawyers, look at such surrounding circumstances. But what is happening here? The law is being bend unnaturally, I am tempted to say forward, so that cover ups can be conducted by those shouting RACIST when their shenanigans are exposed, that is wrong and abuse and creates a climate of fear and oppression. The constant cries of racism are really boring by now, get over yourself or face the courts, not a place where the current government is winning much. They even lost the al-Bashir case, where they failed to honour a court order to arrest the fellow and allowing him to escape, in the Supreme Court of Appeals three days ago (not reported widely in the media, why?). They are now heading for yet another failure in the Constitutional Court, playing the game, wasting money (called buying time in law). There is a saying by Abraham Lincoln of all people: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” No one is fooled anymore. Nothing angers people more than to be falsely accused or treated differently.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.