Do you remember that country song? "You asked me to." I think it was Waylon Jennings who sang it first in 1973. "Long ago and far away. In my ol' common labor shoes" and later on our very own Steve resurrected it in his "Toeka" albums. It was very popular in South Africa and I dare say many other countries. I spoke about country songs with my sister-in-law this morning and this one popped into my head.
The song reminds me of a time when crime was under control and we had no need for security companies (the fastest growing sector in South Africa, even above tourism). I remember a haasman (member of the public, Police slang, Afrikaans) asking me if he needed additional security. I wondered if I should arrest him for sedition which has nothing to do with seduction by the way. There is a rather embarrassing story in legal circles about a Special Branch constable who got the two mixed up in court. Anyway, I gave this fellow my best evil eye for daring to ask a member of the Flying Squad (we fancied ourselves with reason) such crap and said no, we can get to you within four minutes of you crying for help. That by the way was the golden standard. You got to the crime scene in four minutes or the Colonel, bless his soul, would want to know why you are a wanker who doesn't understand the Flying Squad ways. Do it again and you go back to where you came from - the ultimate disgrace. You can read about these adventures in the Mean Streets Series.
But these days we don't have that golden standard anymore and we stopped believing in the police I am sad to admit. They are exceedingly bad with public relations and all we hear are the negatives. Dockets are lost or not properly investigated (sort of true). Corruption is high (I am not sure how high, I have doubts) and generally no serving member of the police can read or write (nonsense, they can). However, it is not my place to defend a police service I have never served with. What this blog is about is the JKLS Security Plan.
It is free which I suppose is good news to you and bad news to me and my creditors. It is something which is proven to work and have saved souls in many countries. I know because I have the emails from grateful users and what it comes down to is to be pro-active and not to rely on others. There are many things you are able to do before crime gets you and you lie on the floor being tortured with a hot iron (happens many times). Your wife and daughters raped (happens many times) and whatever else the bastards will do to you. And whilst you lie there you may remember that despite the great fanfare about an alarm system, research proved that the criminals do not fear alarms. Nor do they fear armed response. So why I ask is it then sold to you as a solution?
The answer is not complicated and comes down to two things. The Insurance Industry who drives by their contracts the Security Industry and layered defense. What do I mean? No insurance company will insure you unless you have an alarm, armed response, burglar bars and a complete list with valuations of your goods. They are looking for reasons not to pay and making sure that the risk they carry is as little as possible - this is good business but very bad for practical security. The security companies know this and offer you exactly what your contract with the Insurance Company says you must have. Hence you are now legally covered to be paid out.
"Hallelujah" says the uninformed public believing they did what they could and are safe now. "It is MBA bullsh-t" say I who have seen it not to be working. I say again, an alarm and armed response are not going to stop the criminal. You have to have it; obviously, this is where layered defense comes in. You have to make it as hard as possible so that they rather attack someone else because it is only a matter of time before crime gets you. I do not know of anyone who does not have a family member or friend who was not a victim already. It will happen to you at some time.
So what is the JKLS Security Plan? It is what you should do right now before you are attacked and read the book I wrote on it "Basic Home Security," there are a lot you can do. It comes down to being pro-active in working out what to do in an emergency. Do you know that before a parachute jump the jumpers keep quiet and go through the emergency drills? Ok, what if this happens? What then? And so they work it out. Ninety five percent of all people don't do this. They rely on pushing the panic alarm (even that is not properly discussed between them). This will not save you every time.
The JKLS Security Plan is where we sit down with you or talk via a forum of people in which case I only expect my fuel and costs to be covered and say to you "let us look at what we can do now and what we do when in an emergency." The plan equips you to be saved. Take for instance if you are found unconscious. How must the paramedics know who you are, what medications you are on? You blood group and medical aid? These things are part of the JKLS Security Plan and what saved the souls in Canada, America and UK. It is not only for crime but any emergency and full of practical advice based on decades of experience. I know what I am talking about when it comes to forensic legal matters - more than anyone else since I started it. It was me who realised that law has a lot of theoretical answers designed to make money for lawyers and have no practical value for clients. It is in fact largely bullsh-t in most cases and not rocket science at all.
Back in 1998 I was a very inexperienced newly admitted attorney. I was trying to protect Mr Mandela's face from illegal copying. His face is trademarked - I often wonder where the royalties for his face on the new banknotes go - and went to see the expensive Intellectual Property Law Firms for assistance. They gave me the standard crap answer which would have cost my client hundreds of thousands of Rand and no solution. It was then when I asked the legal question from which forensic law came "What can the practising attorney or advocate do for the VICTIM of crime or other injustice." Now this may not sound much to you but it turned the outlook completely around. Up to that stage we only looked at defending the perpetrator, not helping the victim. I called this "Forensic Law" and of course, everyone started copying it and they still get it wrong because they believe (there is much money in it) that it is forensic investigations. They are deluded and you can read my book "Tricks of Trade - Memories of a Rogue Lawyer" on the subject if bored enough. Fact is the JKLS Security Plan is against criminals and for victims or future victims. It is there to help you.
I cannot force people to listen to me or to implement the plan but you know what? Whenever I get an email saying my ideas saved someone and thank you I feel good. Perhaps that is what makes it worthwhile. You can find it on my website or contact me, I will help you. By the way, the trademarked face thing on banknotes? Back when one Adolf Hitler needed money he got his face trademarked and placed on every stamp. The royalties went to the Nazi Party and that is how they funded themselves. You don't need to steal; you only have to be smart with law.
Well my friends it is official. I became middle-aged and dour. This past weekend I had the bad luck to watch an old Afrikaans (sort off) movie from my youth called "You Must Be Joking." It is a very apt name for a really bad movie and for those who don't remember it, it is slapstick. You have an "actor" playing tricks on unsuspecting members of the public. Their reactions are caught on film and are at times, funny. The rest, well it depends entirely on your IQ how funny you find it. For some it will be hilarious.
I remember when the movie came out first, back in 1986. I was running and dodging angry drill sergeants at the Police College - something you can read about in the Mean Streets Series. It was exceedingly dark days for South Africa. The year before a state of emergency was declared in many areas. There were terrorist bombs exploding in hamburger joints and metal detectors at every mall to prevent this and giving rise to the multi-billion dollar security industry we have today. In the next four years until sanity returned (sort off) we were fighting and shooting and arresting with great gusto. In many ways it was an innocent time for me. I still believed that our ooms (Afrikaans, older white men) will never deliberately lie to us. And that the whole world is wrong - we are just misunderstood in our racial policies. That our own weird interpretation on the Bible (as in history the American South tried with slavery) was totally correct, after all, we heard that explained Sunday after Sunday in church. We knew that the freedom fighters were terrorists and diehard communists because we saw it in their weapons, training and propaganda videos we confiscated. They were not forced into rebellion with stupid laws which no honourable man could live with. We have not actually lost the propaganda war back in 1948 already and believed our own good news stories to be true. We learned to fear almost (perhaps too strong a word) to get dressed in our ceremonial tunics for that meant another police funeral with full military honours. In one year, 1988 I think, I attended five and that was only in our unit. As a policeman, in those years and I suppose today, you get used to death and violence but it is an entirely different matter when your own is lying there. I remember cursing the generals (wrongly, they were also being abused by the Nationalist politicians) for a lack of bullet proof vests. We had none and some died without reason because of that. Issuing us with horrible family saloon cars and expecting us to chase down criminals in fast BMWs (we did, somehow). And then there was the constant hatred from the press who simply could never bring themselves to believe we were decent, God fearing men serving our country. Nah we were plain stupid, ignorant and racists according to them who would be hard pushed to produce even a BA degree in nothing. Yeah we disliked them just as much and took revenge where we could. And we hated, there is no other word, any male with long hair. Such things breed vermin said our old platoon sergeant and we believed that.
So the movie was a welcome break from reality and I wonder now, 29 years later, why I looked at it and shook my head. What has changed so much that I cannot find 90% of it even remotely funny? Why even look at it? I had the remote and could have moved on to something else easily but did not. I stared and stared and stared.
A couple of things struck me. First were the cars and the main reason I kept watching. It took me back to the days before ABS, ESC and God knows what other aids to make a very mediocre driver better than average. Man, if you had a rev counter those days you thought you were driving in luxury. Only the rich and I mean really rich had aircon and we wisely dismissed them as wankers - such things would give you a cold in summer. Power steering was for sissies with thin arms and fuel injection only for performance cars with a five speed gearbox (the rest had four gears). We had mostly carburettor fed engines and went looking for real mechanics who understood such mechanical things. Those guys listened to the engine, flashed at it with a funny torch and made numerous adjustments until the car exhaust burned white on the open road. I miss that, the smell of an oily garage when men were men and women were women. They often invited you to hold this spanner and pass that on that whatever (a technical term always in Pommy which I never got right first time round). Not like today where you book the car and are banned from watching the part replacer's work. Now you are shunt into a designer lounge area and most unwelcome to see if they actually do their jobs or not.
Then I noticed the aisles in the shops, the supermarkets. Immediately I saw they were wider, much wider than now and the branding changed through the years. I remember when my late wife was here she shook her head and said we are years behind a place like America when comes to branding. I researched this - it was the days before I admitted she was "Mrs Always Right." Yes, we have many more types (branding) of say Rooibos Tea in her tribal areas than in South Africa where it originates from. Why is that? I have no idea but to get back to the movie, the prices also struck me as ridiculously cheap and then I remembered I took R904 (88 dollars in today's money) home as a sergeant in the police...less than a cleaner at the beer breweries. However, I had a 3 year old Toyota Corolla (no aircon I assure you) and lived well enough. There was no such thing as overtime and God would not have helped you if you approached any commissioned officer with such liberal crap. Yeah, men were men in those days and a klap (Afrikaans, slap) against the head would have been the least of your problems. You simply did not dare to break the iron discipline.
In this movie the Mickey is taken out of the traffic police and it is the only part which I found funny. They have no changed much, same attitude if not worse. Then the "actor" tried his luck at what looked like a big railway station by making a damn nuisance of himself at the telephone booths. I remember those telephone booths, this was long before mobiles and you needed small change to make a call. They smelled too. After the third attempt to be funny a burly Railway Police Sergeant arrived and arrested him on the spot. Now what is excellent about this is that he tries to explain he had permission from some fellow (he says the name to impress the sergeant) but the sergeant would have none of it. The "actor" got dragged away by the ear for a fatherly chat. Man, I miss such cops so much these days. I assure you, you never took liberties with a police sergeant and the public feared them above all and with good reason. They were hard men and could not be bribed. You never wanted to see an angry police sergeant because you would live (be grateful if you survive) to regret whatever you did wrong.
I saw in this movie smokers everywhere. Yes they were not giving a (you know what) on who they poisoned and the Marlboro Man was still the king with the Camel Man right behind him. And then there were the women in the movie who I am afraid to say, is not nearly attractive today as they were then. The hair styles were plainly horrible though tight jeans seemed to stay ageless. How is this possible I wonder? Simply, I grew older. A woman in her twenties and thirties just don't do it for a man who is approaching 48 this year. Oh yes last thing, some parts play off in the middle of the city centres what some people call "downtown." It struck me it was clean, there were car parking meters and it was safe enough for a few takhaar (hippies, Afrikaans) cameramen to film. How has the times changed? Amazing ain't it? Enjoy your week then.
Contrary to what many think I actually like speaking to people when I get the chance to do so. Some may even tell you I come over as sincere and knowledgeable. The last part is very true when I speak about JKLS Africa; obviously, I created the company back in 2003 and used it on and off until I came back from Nigeria. Then it became the company of choice for me. I know what my ideas are.
I am asked at times what the briefings are about, the country briefings. Once again it is based on personal experience. When G4S recruited me to West Africa I was flown in blind. There was no such thing as a proper briefing on what to expect and what to do. It went as far as saying I should have about a 100 dollars with me (but not that it should be in large notes, not small ones, as the larger notes is changed to Naira more easily). It said bring a laptop with (which I wondered about, a company which prides itself in being the largest security company in the world really should be able to supply senior people with a laptop). I can mention many other examples of a lack of preparedness but this not the "I hate G4S blog." It is merely what caused the JKLS briefings. In fact I am rather grateful to G4S for opening my eyes to what must not be done to professionals.
"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi" (There's) always something new (coming) out of Africa, said Pliny the Elder centuries ago. Obviously it is hard for you to go to a foreign country and conduct business if you have never been there before. I say in all my legal books that you really should never underestimate Africa. Do not think you can cut corners and treat us differently from any other place. We will take your money and you will cry foul but mostly you have only yourself to blame. Do not make the mistake of going into Africa unprepared - that is foolish and unproductive. You need to be prepared and understand the risks.
The answer is not in media or a Google search. The media tends to over exaggerate everything so they can sell more newspapers, get more hits and more readers. Nor is the answer in the CIA files (they have a country report which is rather pathetic and of no use). No, the answer is to talk to the professionals who lived and worked in the place. Who know the local laws, economy and most importantly culture. We do things differently in Africa; there are unwritten rules which if you break it more than once will have dire consequences on your business negotiations. This is what the briefings are about...to prepare you to do business and make money.
I go to the client; we sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee and talk. I explain to him what the security risks are and what not to do. For instance stay away from women of the night. In almost every kidnapping I dealt with he got caught by a local girlfriend's house or place. Be sure that you open your hotel door fully clothed, why? Because we had a fellow arrested for rape, he was innocent, the CCTV cameras showed she never entered his room but she saw his tattoo on his shoulder and described it to the police. That was enough to get him arrested for a nice attempted bribe.
It is small things like this which makes the difference. Take another example; it rains at a tremendous rate in Africa. Hence you would be advised by me to get ankle type boots rather than your nice shoes you have on now. What about medicines? What about the legal system and contracts? How do you address a senior Nigerian? Who pays the bill after dinner? Is it even safe to use your credit card? Do you know that 95% of banks will block your card automatically when used in West Africa? That is if you did not inform them you are there and now you have the embarrassment of not being able to pay for the meal. I have seen senior executives red faced and severely upset when that happens. He lost face and is seen as a Mickey Mouse wanker who is not serious.
And so the list goes on and on. From a business viewpoint it is madness to dash into a country unprepared. Finding your feet costs money and productivity. Of course, this is Human Resources function but I have yet to meet a single one who does this or impresses me with his knowledge. Paradoxically his lack of knowledge frequently impresses me. They frequently scare me with their arrogance but that is a topic we spoke of before.
What was interesting to me was not the briefing on Nigeria and Mozambique but the one on South Africa. How do you describe your own place to foreigners? Do you gloss over the truth, the shameful bribery seeking traffic police? Or do you say it as you see it? I chose the latter and it seems to be working. There is anyway no other way for me, fear is from satan. And this is what it is about; when you talk to me you get the answers. I was there; I know the legal systems, culture, people and the economy.
Why in the clients office? Simply because he feels more comfortable and hence take in what I say. I know this works better than a formal conference scenario. Hence I meet clients at airports too and the briefings take as long as it takes meaning as long as there is a question I will answer it. But in practice this is about two hours and from 35 pages of notes (sometimes more). Yes, I like talking to clients.
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 hostage survival training and 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. Koos is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.