Lawyers are generally weird people, they look at things and life differently than you and not always with rose tinted lenses. I remember when still practising law asking a much in love couple sitting in my office for advice on a prenuptial agreement what happens when they get divorced? Now perhaps the word “when” was taking it too far and I saw absolute hatred in the woman's eyes and the husband-to-be made the sign of the cross twice and another sign I am sure was meant to be a friendly greeting just as he got into his car, unaware of the security cameras. My fees went up dramatically because of it. However, it is a good idea to look at risk first. Just before the US invaded Iraq a then junior general by the name of Petraeus asked: “Tell me how this ends?” and that floored everyone and we know now how it ended, chaos and defeat. We look at risk at JKLS all the time, we try to reduce it with compliance to the law and common-sense advice not to do stupid things. There are many examples.
Some business owners pride themselves in having financial records for the tax man and then the real one hidden away. Now firstly, you will sweat blood when the tax man gets you and he most probably will, your lifestyle and that of your wife will betray you. Then you will tell me it was not worth it to meet Bubba in a jail cell. It also reflects badly on your public statements that you are a deeply committed Christian but actually you are a cheat and criminal in outlook. Worse is when you sell that business and now there is a big difference between actual value (the real books) and what you can show to the buyer who wants to see the audited books. Also remember, since the US Enron débâcle, all auditors are required by law to report anything wrong they see and they will pick it up. Some said to me it is a sixth sense but such boring people don't have such things. No, it is experience, as I know when you trying to pull a fast one on me. We heard and saw it before, for years, we know.
Then there is another school of thought stating that your wife must never know your financial affairs. “It is dangerous if she does, and she may then want even more” or so they explain to me over a beer (alone). I think that is crap too. If you cannot trust your wife who can you trust? What are you hiding? When I wrote the book on how to deal with satan's people, the “hounds from hell” known to you as debt collectors (Your Worst Enemy, free of charge, always) I realised that a wife will mostly stand by her man in hard times. Yes, I get the cynical laughter too when you read this, not all of them. I am record also that most millionaires lose their money at age 48 (thank the Lord then I have nothing left to lose Friday coming) and with their money the wife walks. But in general I have seen more often than not a woman standing by her man and getting fearsomely protective as long as he stops being stupid with money. So open and honesty is the best policy. It is also a nice test, when I say to a woman, look, despite the books and degrees and websites I am actually rather poor, and she runs away (mostly) I am saved considerable anguish later on. In love it should not bother you if your soul is poor and if it does, in the wrong way, you are not souls. Yes, love can be very simple and should be. There are no grounds for grey areas either and souls never wonder about it, they only wonder how on earth they could be so lucky to have each other.
The one thing we know for certainty no matter what your religious believes is that you will die one day. You cannot really know when so it is very prudent to ensure your testament is sorted out and that your wife knows what to do. I wrote a short book on this called “Your Last Will & Testament” which talks also of the shysters trying to abuse your widow afterwards, you know, the sellers of gravestones, the financial investors and the gigolos descending on her besides her worst enemy, the banksters. It is all in the book and free of charge as is all my legal books, why, because such things are too important to ask money for. It will also show you what a simple testament (and they must all be simple or get professional help, not you banksters, my word, your attorney) looks like.
We speak of a “living will” which is where you are in a coma, you will not, according to two experienced doctors, ever wake up and you are brain dead. What now? What must your wife do? For me, the answer is “switch off the machines and let me go home to my wife where I want to be.” Whatever you decide must be known and respected. You need to talk to your wife about this. (I take for granted the man dies first, of course, with me, I was cruelly cheated, so is life.)
What about your passwords for your Facebook and other social media accounts? It must be closed now as seeing you on the screen all the time is a terrible shock for your wife and with Facebook creating a “memory” now and then (God knows why, it is memories you don't want or need) will be distressing to the surviving spouse. You have to give detailed information on these accounts and nominate someone to close them after your death. You don't need it anymore, really not, you are in a better place (I hope).
You should never rule from the grave. It is stupid. Give your wife her soul back which she entrusted to you when she fell in love with you. Now she can carry on and find someone else to make her happy whilst stuck on earth. There is no such thing as married couples in heaven, Jesus himself said so, accept it. Don't come up with crap like “she can inherit but only if she never marries again,” it is stupid and unlawful and will not be held up in court. The way the testament is drafted is extremely finicky in law, it is either right or wrong and hardly ever in between. That story of you sitting in front of a camera and tell what you want and trying to be funny doing so? Leave it to the movies, lawyers have no known sense of humour when working, it will be rejected. Get it done correctly and stay away from banksters, they must never ever draft your will and if you want to know why, read my book.
Remember that once you are departed you are not coming back, your chance to do things right is now, not then. Get your life sorted out before it is too late. It is the final act of love to do so. Your wife does not need further complications in dealing with your departure.
You have to understand something about parole - it is not a God given right in law. It must be earned and the reasoning behind it is firstly to give the inmate a chance to behave properly and to be released earlier because he behaved. Also, if you are as cynical as me and everyone else involved with law for longer than two minutes, you will know the jails are way too overcrowded and needs to be emptied constantly. So the parole system is to help reduce the inmate population. That is the real reason behind the scenes.
Obviously, many (most in fact) of the released inmates will commit crimes again. They don’t have much choice, according to some liberals, they are unable to find jobs (you cannot even find a job without a record) and they need to live, and hence they rob and steal and rape and murder and whatever else you care to mention. Recently, meaning in the last decade, we saw many victims of such crimes hammering the State with civil law suits and winning. Quite rightly so, if the inmate stayed inside the jail he would have committed the crimes outside.
Hence it stands to reason that the parole board has a terribly difficult time to decide who must be released and who not. They are bound by the law as is everyone else (in theory) and often make mistakes which hit the headlines. As now with Pistorius and let me say he would be extremely lucky not have the Appeal Court overturn his conviction to murder. I and most other lawyers I know (I speak to a few now and then, I have to) believe he will be find guilty of murder and have his sentence increased to at least 15 years. If not, he beat the system and good luck to him also. The point is, as I read the news (always dangerous, it is seldom correctly reported) his parole was agreed to even before the one sixth of his sentence was completed hence making it inherently illegal and I am sure, the Minister was correct in stopping it. I have to wonder also, with his staying inside the prison hospital which is five star treatment, how the parole board could have decided whether he behaved properly or not. That hospital stay I can tell you, is not normal, you would be extremely blessed to be kept in a single cell away from the rest of the inmates. It is only done to celebrities, not the guy on the street.
Jails are not nice places to be in. That story you hear repeated about “a nice holiday and food and shelter” has to be put in perspective...no privacy, surrounded by criminals, danger of being raped and abused and bad food and of course, away from your family and extreme boredom since there is very little real rehabilitation programs (none works). And there are other nastiness in jail. You are alone.
During World War Two quite a few men escaped from prisoner of war camps. Movies were made about it, some good and others so so but not one of the movies reflected the overriding motive for escape, sex. Yes, when a young man is locked up and kept away from natural instincts he starts thinking of a place where someone special, a female, is waiting for him. This you can read in their books, it is not in the Hollywood ideas of manly companionship. Also food, some prisoners almost starved to death and it was much worse in the East under the Japanese. Thinking about it, jail life really is not where you want to be. I say again, it is not easy and a real punishment. Everyone looks forward to parole and those doing life, well, they are resigned and dangerous as they have nothing further to lose, they have no parole options, not when they are 234 years old. I find the criticism of the Ministers decision on cancelling Pistorius’s parole disturbing and especially the notion it is racially based. Such views show you have no idea what the law says and are speculating. Let it go.
What is racist and plain stupid in my view is the alleged text send by our national police commissioner to a DA parliament member and I understand it is admitted that it came from the commissioner’s mobile phone (which is not to say she wrote it) but if she did the pong of rotting bananas is really strong. Whenever someone starts playing the “you don’t like me because I am black / or pink / or white card you know (1) weak argument, (2) no self confidence and (3) probably guilty” of whatever your are accused off. It is pathetic and uncalled for to do such things. It is also unheard off that such a text could be send and it will be interesting to see what happens now. Probably nothing, banana smelling, but in any other country she would have been dismissed as unbecoming her office. And if you believe that was not a threat, you are silly, it was a clear threat and I would advise the receiver to lay criminal charges immediately.
I said so many times that is is becoming boring to me too that a police commissioner cannot be appointed from the side and expected to be successful. They tried three times now and the results are failure with a capital F each time. It is a job like no other and unless you were in the police for many years you will fail. You also look like an idiot in the uniform as it takes more than getting dressed, it takes an attitude what these civilians just don’t have. So it is another joke but one with very serious consequences.
And then I read, astonished, it now takes nineteen minutes for the police to arrive a priority crime taking place. Yes, nineteen minutes. Do you want to know what our response time limit was in 1988 when I was a young sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad? Three minutes or the Colonel, bless his soul, wanted to know why you have such bad manners in not appreciating the fast Ford Sierra XR6 the Commissioner issued to you. Perhaps you don’t have what it takes to be in the elite Flying Squads and he can arrange your transfer to Soweto. And so you got to the crime scene in three minutes or less. Yeah, you can read about this in my police autobiography Mean Streets and then wonder why we are today three times worse off. Well, perhaps we can sue them for that too.
You know what is pathetic to me? Charities not taking care of their employees. There is seldom something as a “poor” charity operating proudly in many different countries...they are well funded and have lots of money to waste on fancy offices. It is a business and not a charity as you may understand the word. Hence you will not find me supporting them financially. Why should I? They have enough liberal idiots paying for their flamboyant offices and cars. It the same with my old university who is not ashamed to ask for donations from former students, why is that? I am not about to give to an institution which is in no way the same (in values or ranking) since I was a student eighteen years ago. I wrote them off a long time ago.
However, I always help missionaries and deserving charities for free and even here I found a disturbing tendency. The first question I am asked is why? They often accuse you by stating “Will you now tell the entire world on your website you helped us with hostage survival briefings?” It is a question which clearly shows to me that they did not even bother to read my website before asking me that. If they did they would have seen we never publish clients names and it is to my detriment not to do so. Why, because for some strange people the amount of “likes” on my Facebook page is important (why I would not know, it is part the marketing bullsh-t game of “Oh, so many like you and so then should I”). It is the same with a “portfolio” on your website. Many see the often faked trademarks of big corporates on a website and think, “Ah, so this is for real, see what they did for the lot across the street” and then they feel safe to do business with you. I would have thought the value you bring to a client is the decisive factor, not money or “likes.”
Now we don't publish clients names for security reasons. Imagine this, in almost every kidnapping case we found it was not a random act (there are random cases, for instance you are inside a bank where a robbery takes pace – it is dealt with in the briefing) and now your kidnappers check your website or mine (and they do) and see you underwent the briefing. Do you suppose they will now treat you with more severity making your survival so much harder? Yes, obviously, they researched you and they know you. Every time you tell you new girlfriend how brave your are in working in Africa you are in effect putting a nail in your own coffin. We have a lot to say about this aspect in the briefings. The point is, I don't ride on a charity's or client's back for cheap publicity by revealing your name on my website. I get nothing from helping the odd missionary or the charity for free. In fact it costs me tens of thousands as the briefing is expensive on purpose. I have no wish to have Mickey Mouse clients, what we do is just too serious for such nonsense and it is highly specialist law to which the law firms have not woken up to yet (they never will but the copy cats are busy).
It angers me when I read with boring regularity of another kidnapping taking place and it seems to me it is often connected to one particular charity and when you approach them to say “I can help you, just pay my costs to get to you” (extremely reasonable) you get the old “I will get back to you if I want to. Or the what is in it for you (the cheap publicity) and worse, oh we need monetary donations.” What I do not find is the humanitarian view to reward the loyal employees with the ability to survive. It is pathetic in my eyes.
I said before, in law, it is a time bomb waiting to explode...this utterly arrogance of sending men and women into harm's way and not equipping them for the worst case scenario which you know and ought to have known, is going to bring a public relations nightmare for many besides the legal costs when they family sues you. We look at two sides in the briefing, firstly for the employee to survive (there are many ways and tricks of the trade the average person cannot possibly know) and then for the corporate /charity to survive (they have no clue what to do, research showed less than 2% even think of the worst case scenario and when it happens, they run like headless chickens).
Hence my services are needed and sadly, my client base is not in South Africa where it is needed most. Why not? Arrogance, we think we know “Africa” and because we travelled a bit we are “experts.” You are not, Africa proper has almost nothing in common with South Africa which is, despite the moaning, a paradise in relation to the rest (mostly, not all, generally speaking). Conversely, overseas companies are the best for me, they pay in dollars and best, they listen and they don't have the arrogance I encounter here. They actually understand why they need the services and they get why I don't publish their names on my website. And they do not ask silly questions on “what is there in for you” when I offer to help them.
It is disturbing really, I wonder what is the modus operandi behind these charities and missionaries who actually do look a gifted horse in the mouth. They then wonder when I say, “look, I am busy and I don't have time for this...your window of opportunity is closed, bye bye and next time, you pay the full amount.” This is another strange thing we see – whenever you give away a free book you are told, “Ah, it cannot be good, why else for free but you know what, I am not willing to buy it either, it does not contain sex and fifty shades of filth (women abuse in my eyes).” You just cannot win. Why have we become so cynical these days?
Sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying to extent a helping hand to charities and the missionaries. I know the answer, the man and woman trying to feed their families, the employee who needs the job and even in a dangerous environment. The loyal one who does not realise that loyalty to unscrupulous bosses can kill. And the greatest irony? Yeah those very same bosses, they drive in a convoy of vehicles and with their fat asses in a B6 armoured Land Cruiser when they visit the “field workers” they send to the dangerous environment. That is how much they fear their fellow man or it clearly shows their cowardice. It is laughable, and then to expect his employee not to receive the needed survival briefing or to drive around in a normal (not armoured) car? You get that? I don't, I am tempted to look at them and shake my head in disgust and so should you.
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.