You know we live in violent times. We see it on the news, we read it on every website and we experience it ourselves. Our violent crime rate is higher than almost any other country outside a war-zone and because of that the private security industry is booming. I spoke to some people the other day and I wondered if there is there anyone out there who does not have a nasty criminal experience? I doubt it. Everyone I asked and know will tell me a first-hand experience of staring into a gun at some point in their lives. They will also tell me, if men, how bad they feel when they are unable to protect their family. They tell me how much money they have spent on security and how amazed they were when they get to other parts of the world and experience normal living conditions. You may not know this but having armed response, six feet electrified fences, CCTV, burglar bars, safe rooms, flood lights, emergency generators and a specialist alarm is not normal. It is only nutcases and the medically paranoid who has such things in other countries. Here we have gotten used to it and no doubt the industry drives it too. I tried to help by publishing my book Basic Home Security for free; ironically, it downloads a lot more overseas than in South Africa.
What is more interestingly these days is that I am asked by readers who left the country for various reasons whether they should come back. I understand how they feel. Whenever I am outside this country I tend to look up and if not able to see the sun at least 90% of the times or the Southern Cross every night I feel a bit lost. So I get it. On the other hand, I will never advise anyone to come back. You may wonder why not for I am not a far right whiner. In fact I am often accused of being more liberal than what is good for me. I did practice law at the most famous human rights law firm in Africa right in the beginning. Read my books and you will know I give credit to both sides and criticize what is wrong. Hence I am not politically correct but according to myself, somewhere in the middle between the liberals and whiners. Below then are my reasons to tell you to stay away.
Affirmative Action, the revenge on the white man, will not go away soon. Not in my life time and the way it is applied will cause even more problems. According to the long haired liberals who first thought it out many decades ago in America, being goody two shoes to begin with, you don't have to appoint a man who is not qualified. What it is supposed to be, is that if you have two candidates, one white and one of color, and they are both qualified, you will appoint the colored one to uplift him. It is not a bad system if applied correctly and always done for minorities. I suppose I don't have to point out that the exact opposite is going on here, no qualifications and against a minority. But mark my words; it will not go away so you are condemning your children to this when you come back. Stay away.
Secondly, and I may have said this before, those who do come back are not that popular with their own community or anyone else. You will be seen as a failure who came back because you had to. No other reason and yes, I do get it that this is unfair and sometimes plain wrong. You may have excellent new skills but that is how you are seen here. You are first white and then you have skills. The argument is, you chose to leave, you made your bed and now you are back? I doubt if you will find the grass greener this side either. Statistically you won't. We have 4/10 women without a job and 1/3 men and those are Statistics South Africa figures. I believe it is more, much more for I see it in my legal consultancy. If you advertise an attorney position, you would get 3 times more applications that for that of a secretary.
Why is that? I am not sure, but can tell you from experience, working at most law offices is no great honour or even financially viable. You are treated from the beginning, as an articled clerk, as a slave, and by the time you become a partner or director you are so programmed to serve mammon, the god of money, that you know nothing else. And you have so much debt from buying into the law office that you become what is known derisively as a "lawyer." You cannot understand why polite society looks down on you and why you are not seen as a pillar of the community by anyone except yourself.
It is easy to explain. You are still a slave, a rich one perhaps, but at the whim of every client who can fire you whenever they want to. As a legal advisor I expect the lawyer to do what I tell him and if not, bye-bye because I can replace you within seconds. I know from experience that your own valuable colleagues would sell you down the line. Wine and dine me and offer me everything including a trip to Dubai and some Russian girls just to get the account. Now note, I am a widower and not interested in either Dubai (over expensive and filled with people I don't like) or Russian girls (I love my wife, even since she went home to our Lord, I stay true to my soul mate). That tactic will not work on me but you get what I say about the status of a lawyer? Not much to be proud off. Your work is nothing but breaking down and destroying.
What is my point? Stay where you are and don't come here, it is not your home or what you remember anyway. We have changed, moved on, adapted. If lawyers are struggling to find a job you know the economy is not doing that great. None of the wonderful investments and opportunities we were promised in 1990 has come to effect. Nigeria has overtaken us as the biggest economy in Africa. Angola is spending eight times more on weapons that we do and what we have left is nothing to be proud of. ESKOM have failed us and will keep on failing us for decades to come. We now have something called "beurtkrag" or load shedding - something you never knew and probably still don’t. It means electricity, once taken for granted is now unavailable without warning. Such things show how far backwards we have slid. Stay away.
Members of Parliament have to be removed from the parliament by the police and note; it is not the policemen fault. It is the members who show no respect for the old traditions and have allowed it to become the circus it is today. This will not change but get worse...a clear sign of a banana republic. Stay away.
When you drive here you will learn to dodge the blue light convoys of the newly rich that have no respect for law and order. When you fill your car with gas, you will find out it is more expensive than that of the USA and even neighboring countries. Why? Tax mate, and what happens to that tax? I don't know for the road structures are falling apart. And then they added tollgates you have never seen to tax the motorist even further. By the way, your car will be 16 years old; that is the average age of a vehicle here. Stay away.
I can talk about schools which have become very expensive and not private ones, they always were, but the same state school you attended once for almost next to nothing. These days it is thousands of Rand. I can tell you about universities who are not even under the top 100 in Africa, never mind anywhere else. I can tell you of living expenses which go up weekly. Yes weekly, I check and see the price increases. I can tell you that today I will reboot my internet connection between six and ten times and have a 50Kb link though I pay for much faster than that. It is laughable and expensive. But mostly it is the lack of honest opportunity which is why I say to you stay where you are. You will need to learn to bribe and get the right partners if you want contracts here. Really, you need to think again. Coming back for the sun, the Southern Cross or even your parents is not worth it. Stay away.
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.