I am often asked, what made you write? It is a good question actually and hard to explain. The idea of a book forms in your brain and then you start figuring it out and soon you have a book in concept form. Right, but you still need to sit down and write it and that is really the easy part for me. I know in general what the book will do and I made notes of other books from which we can take ideas for a new book. However, I will deny that a book is planned. I do not plan books meticulously as some authors do (and good luck to them), I just know that I want to explore something or a previous book created a new story. It is not hard, not difficult and surely beats working for a living.
If you add the fiction books, under another name, I have now written more than two dozen books, yes, on average about 240 pages each. They go from the police books, which are memoirs and have all the faults inherent to such books to counter terrorism, legal, business, relationships, cookbooks and then of course, my favourites, the spy novels. Mind you, many disagree that the spy novels are that genre, spy novels, some say they are more action books, Special Forces and covert operations mixed with romance and fun! I can tell you this, you will not read a book written by me or my alter ego, without learning about history or laughing a bit (mostly at me which is also good). And I dare say, based on feedback, I am getting better at it but the question remains, why?
The police books, the Mean Streets Series, were the first and I wrote them because I was fed up (to put it mildly) on the politically correct crap which is published in South Africa about that time period of our lives. The few books I read were mostly very good stories but explained nothing of interest to the student of history. I wanted to understand why an honourable police force became an “instrument of terror” as we were described in the newspapers abroad and sometimes at home (they had guts, those liberal journalists). Hence I looked at it firstly from the viewpoint of a legal expert and then from my own perspective as I actually was there, experiencing it. I likewise wanted to show the funny side of being in the police during those days and I did, some of the stories are retold to me in great detail by readers. It really was a wonderful life, we had so much fun and I think back with a smile.
Yet the Mean Streets Series caused nasty comments from many, some comments deservedly so. All my books are (the spy novels are professionally edited) home grown. It was interesting how some attacked the grammatical errors mercilessly – with a 100 000 words plus book, there will be a few errors, it is inevitable. Others were more idiotic with comments on what the policemen said (I used the language of the day) and one complaint bitterly that I betrayed the Force being a liberal myself (that hurt). Whatever, I wrote the books because I wanted to close a chapter in my life. At that stage I was out of the police for twenty odd years and had no contact with them at all except professionally. I moved on but the nightmares and anger remained because I knew we were not only used and abused but discarded by weaker men than us, the so called Nationalist Party politicians who could not run away fast enough. Even today the resentment about them is tangible in me, they are cowards as I said in the Mean Streets Series and I still await a single one to sue me for saying that. I suppose this comes out in the books which is why some reckons they are the best books ever written about the South African Police Force (not my words). Most certainly they are legally correct, they do explain a lot which for some are boring. The books are so much deeper than the usual “I was there” type of books that they cannot be classified under the normal autobiographies as far as I am concerned. I know they are used as reference works for many a PhD thesis overseas – despite me clearly warning not to do so. So for me, it was simply to say, here is my story, do what you want. Learn from it or run from it or whatever, I feel good having written them and they are not for the faint of heart as they describe a time which was difficult, to say the least.
What makes me the happiest about them? I can give you many examples. I made friends all over the world, some read my fiction books also and loved it – they should, same writing style. Some former members said to me the books helped them to make peace with themselves, with their parents, with their children etc. and wives wrote to say they understand their husbands now. Such support (pride) made me happy but the best of all? Well, as you know I wrote my late wife into the books as “my America Patriot” and she became more famous than me, especially under the female readers (more than males, weirdly so).
I often get letters in Afrikaans or English addressed to her – all of them say our love was extraordinary, beyond belief almost - they love her to pieces and she is a wonderful woman. Yes, she is since she is alive in Heaven, I will get to her, don’t you worry. When it is my time, I will run to her. But in the meantime, where her letters are in Afrikaans, I translate them and I read it to her in English. This means more to me than money. Since we recently got the books in print, that is in paper, she is there, on the back page with me as she wrote them as much as I did. And so I found peace and that is why I write, I find peace in words, not in explosions, not in tears or confrontation. Writing, to put it simply, makes me happy. I am in control.
I had the privilege to visit my mom in hospital every day of this week and yesterday, when she was released, I waited 97 minutes for a wheelchair to arrive to take her down to the car. Well, it was either waiting or carrying her out and waiting seemed more fun as I made sure to get a coffee downstairs in the lobby and observed the crowd.
You have to say, private hospitals are busy and must be making record profits and good luck to them too. It is a good business product and if you read the legal crap in their admission forms you will never sign it as they cover themselves from doing an impromptu circumcision to ensuring they get paid. The last bit is by far the most important but that is also fine to me – they do good work. I am also mentioning it because I noted something interesting on who is able to afford a good enough medical aid still working in December. Mostly, the patients are wealthy looking by which I am politely saying fat as pigs, really obese and the reason why they are in hospital and they go in age between kids (thin) and the elderly and then the newly rich with the CANCER t-shirts and extremely expensive mobiles, watches, sunglasses and the flashing the Mercedes key rings. Mind, I get why they want to live long, they got it made here. Most of the patients though are in a terribly bad mood which also goes with being ill. As one of my fiction book characters’ states, she is a terrible woman when “otherwise” and often put the fear of God into me, “if you can eat you are not ill!” But I wonder now if she is that correct (not that I will dare to argue), obviously some of these patients ate a lot. Also contrary to perceptions, the food I have seen in left overs, are good at that hospital, you would feel bad not eating it. Even my mom, not known to eat a lot, got stuck in.
On a more serious note, no one in his right mind wish to get old and frail and be in hospital. Really not, it is rather strange how people cling to life long after they should have gone home and what is more, most who says they want a long life die young, is that tempting God? I wonder. In the Bible a long life is promised to those honouring their parents, well I get that. If you misbehaved with either my mom or dad your life may have been cut short on the spot, so we did the right thing and I suppose most are like that. But it is sad, to see the elderly arrive and leave, and since they are suspecting they may be leaving (I am sure) to a better place than this earth, they are dressed neatly, ready for the final journey to the morgue where we will all end up one day.
And then we have the old double cab brigade parking onto the pavements in the hospital parking area. God knows why since there are many parking spaces available and yet, we park on the pavement because we can. I am shaking my head, this repulsive behaviour includes all double cab makes and of course, the wannabee Fortuner brigade who cannot afford a Land Cruiser Vx and so proves their manhood or sisterhood by parking on a pavement. I have no sympathy for this type of thing, it is barbarism for there is no emergency. This is plainly “I am above the law” and in the coming holiday many will roll on their way to the coast and hopefully die. And no, I shed no tears for an ass driving at top speed, way above the legal limits and crashing when needed. He can die next to the road and I will not stop to assist or even offer a prayer. Such people should not even be on the roads to anger everyone else with their boorish behaviour.
Another fellow who found out yesterday he is not above the law is Oscar Pistorius, now a murderer, officially and that is the end of the road which should never have been walked legally. What is sad is how people are now bringing in race into it, I read the original judge, a black woman, is an idiot and worse in some comments. Look, we don’t take kindly to judges being insulted, don’t go that route. I can tell you, when the Appeal Court overturns your verdict, it is a professional disaster and not easily lived down, let it go. She had her reasons and they were good reasons even if totally against what every legal handbook says and every legal professional was astonished. What we can learn from this is never to corner someone and shoot them through a closed door. Unless you are under attack, do not shoot. It is that simple and that complicated. Pistorius will now serve a much longer term and justice, for once, was done.
I noted something else yesterday in the crowds. It is the older nurses, middle age and upwards who are the kindest, less stressed and always noting everything. No less than three asked me what I wanted and that I suppose means I either looked suspicious or lost, take your pick!
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.