You all know about your right to remain silent...where you can refuse to say anything which may later incriminate you in a court of law. Americans call it "taking the fifth" and in South Africa it was initially referred to as the "Judges Rules" and it all comes down to the same thing - to stay silent when questioned by the police or authorities without fear of being sorted out for that silence.
Obviously in certain countries such silence would be seen as a sincere lack of respect for law enforcement. It is said that in the old South African Police Force we took a dim view of the above rights and had our own (very unofficial version) which went something like this: "Yes, you have the f right to remain silent, but I would seriously advise you not to f invoke that right...for I will kick the (you know what) out of you until you f confess and stop wasting my f time!" This was also then followed up with a few well-placed punches so that the message quickly got to even the thickest of criminals that a confession is desired and will be given anyway, so why waste everyone's time?
The fact that he may have been innocent did not enter the fray - the fact that he would (after a fatherly talk) show us where his murdered victim was buried proved to us his guilt beyond any doubt. And the courts agreed - they took the not surprising viewpoint that "if you did not know anything, as you now claim, why then could you show the detective where the body and murder weapon etc was hidden? So even if you needed to be pursued by the diligent detective to tell the truth, you are still guilty and your confession stands!"
As you can imagine that view brought all sorts of trouble for the criminal and more innocent citizens so one of the first things to be changed in law, in the new South Africa, was that any type of coercion to get a confession will lead to the whole of the evidence being declared invalid. Null and void as if it never existed and that should have stopped over eager detectives in their tracks when it comes to fatherly methods. I am sure that you will agree this is the better option for the protection of the innocent - but it is also seen as being soft on crime - wrongly in my view.
The South African legal system is not seen as soft on crime by the long haired liberals overseas (not that their opinion matters). In fact it is seen as overly harsh...especially in the light of the almost total lack of education in prison and terrible overcrowding. It is NOT an extended holiday though some of the richer prisoners may bribe their way there as they would have done outside too. My point is that the law is neutral and it is for you to use it to your advantage. If you do not claim your rights (legal remedy's) it will probably not be automatically invoked to protect you. The question is do you understand your many rights? Most unfortunately don't and it is not always against the police but sometimes against your bank or other creditors. They are by far worse than the police in my interpretation for they destroy everything you have including your self-confidence and manhood. They will even wreck your marriage if allowed to because you don't know how far you can push back!
I tried to help the average Joe on the street by giving my legal books away free of charge for you to empower yourself against such attacks. For instance Your Worst Enemy will tell you what to do when you lost your job and cannot afford your loans anymore. You will soon find your worst enemy (previously known as your banksters) now considers you "something akin to satan to be humiliated as much as possible" and not an honoured client anymore - expert legal and business knowledge may save you and your family from this scenario. I wish more professionals will do the same and assist the people to understand the legal system.
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.