Last week the latest crime statistics were released. It seems that we have no less than 45 murders a day in South Africa - five times the international average. Practically, this means someone will be murdered by the time I finished typing this blog - a sobering thought which should worry you. They also speak of eleven thousand hijacked cars and another fifty six thousand stolen each year. About rape and child abuse I don't even want to talk because 90% of that happens at the hands of someone who is close to the family.
As can be expected the "social media experts" had a field day criticizing the SAPS. Most don't believe the statistics anyway - 67% reckon not all crime is reported and hence the problem is much worse. That is true by the way. The first rule of Forensic Law is to get an attorney to give the instruction to the private investigator / corporate investigator or private eye. Otherwise he is bound to testify what he uncovered if subpoenaed by court. I have a lot to say about this, legal privilege, in my book Tricks of Trade - Memories of a Rogue Lawyer, where we looked at forensic legal principles. The message has not reached 99% of all such investigators - one day, I hope soon; it will bite someone so hard in the ass that they wise-up. Even the famous auditing houses seem to think that a legal advisor has legal privilege - he does not. Point being that you never know what you uncover with such cases - half of the time it is the wife / son who is stealing from the company. The other half it is the best worker who looks you in the eye whilst lying. Such cases are rarely reported to the police and many others are kept secret too. Not that I care. We don't do corporate investigations at JKLS but leave it to the professionals - the subject is boring to me except the legal aspects of it - forensic law.
I say in all my legal books the law is neutral. If not used (and at times abused) to suit your purposes it has no meaning. It must be enforced to have practical meaning. If you don't report you were raped or abused - how can you expect the SAPS or justice system to help you? Tragically there are patterns when it comes to child & spouse abuse. The same as drug abuse where you can actually see it if you care to look for the pattern - I have written booklets on this subject which you can download and educate yourself if you wish. As said, it is almost always by someone the child / spouse knows and trusts.
Back to the statistics - I read that only 1% of the population (according to polls) actually believe the SAPS is doing something about crime and 32% will tell you South Africa is more violent now than before. We are violent; I make a living by talking to people about the dangers in Africa and how to survive the worst case scenarios like hostage situations. Most, 95%, of my clients are foreigners, not Africans and certainly not from South Africa. Why is that? You would have thought those who are in danger have the greatest need of this knowledge. My views on this are controversial but that is me, I never follow the politically correct road anyway. What I found though is plain arrogance - we simply believe we know it all and no-one can tell us anything about security & the law. Quite a few colleagues said to me we have not suffered enough yet. We still need to feel the pain and then perhaps we will start listening and act accordingly instead of complaining on computer screens. They also doubt it will ever reach that stage, unless personally attacked.
I hope they are wrong. I hope that it is not necessary for more to die so that a relatively few (the security / legal industry) make more money. The arrogance is there all right and manifests in many ways. I drive around a lot to see clients and always, not most of the time but always, note the lack of speed limits. It is so seldom that you see anyone, from the heavy duty truck driver to the smallest car sticking to the rules of the road that you actually remember them. What does this show me? A total lack of respect for authority and disregard for the law (which is there for your safety)! In civilised countries that is known as "anarchy." If you feel you have a "right" to break the law in speeding or it is a joke to you to do so, you probably have other ideas also which show your arrogance about life in general. You probably would then know everything anyway and need no-one. You would also cry like a girl when things go wrong - it is soooo unfair that is should happen to you.
In fact it is not. It is entirely your own fault if you depended on the SAPS (who you slander at every braai and conversation as being pathetic) for your own safety and that of your household. Same with private security - by just doing a few things extra - and not depending entirely on armed response you may just save your own life. Ironically, armed response is NOT seen as a deterrent by the armed robbers. See my book Basic Home Security.
The SAPS is not as bad as many think. I ask again, why is the jails overcrowded (some say up to 400%)? Why is the criminal court role 4 years behind schedule? Perchance because the criminals gave themselves up? Or because the lack of a death penalty gives us more prisoners in the system? Or because lawyers take on too many cases and thus postpone most to a later date? No, criminals never give themselves up, they get caught, by the police. The death penalty debate - that adds about 150 prisoners to the system every year - which is nothing. The postponement of criminal (and civil cases to be fair) - yes but unimportant - who caught the criminal to be postponed? It is a non-argument.
It is no use to complain about crime and the SAPS. Do something about it. Otherwise you are part of the problem and start by looking at your own behaviour - show respect for the law. Since I started typing, somewhere in South Africa someone is now dead, waiting for the police to fetch his body. It is a national disgrace. In any civilised country the police commissioner and minister would have resigned and slunk away. But this is Africa, there is no shame.
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. 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 practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.