I have learned three valuable lessons from commissioned police officers. The first was to always walk to the car with whoever came to visit you. Then you know the bastard is actually leaving again without stealing anything of value from your base. Of course, it was unheard of to do such things against your own lot but the army lads were open game for whatever we needed. It was only much later that I found out I could ask and if willing to sign for it, they will gladly help us out. Oh, and a few other items like an AK47 bayonet smoothed the deal a lot. It was rather sad to break the rules of our games with each other like that and I felt terribly disappointed. Nevertheless, I signed as Col Saunders of KFC fame expecting them to realise (we wore no ranks on the border) I could not possibly a police colonel who are very elderly people (38 years plus). But no, they just jumped at attention rather rapidly. Startling it was too, I even looked behind me to see why.
Secondly, I learned to have a very nice right hand hook at all times available just in case the criminal or terrorist tries his luck. Mean Street rules meant you act forcefully and with great violence. However, the violence was not without reason as your actions may be tested in court. Still, brutality was our middle name or so the liberals said. Well, they had reason to fear our attentions. We did sort them out and they lost every fight. And it did not take long for us to become fatherly if needed.
Therefore it was with surprise that I noted the large amount of negotiations before rioters got themselves shot by us. I expected to see them gathering and just to open fire. However, in the eighties this was not the case and I talk of personal experience of the many riots I attended. Those commissioned officers were generally hard men, fair and strict with many years of experience behind them and they needed every bit to survive. Whatever they did or happened under their command was scrutinized and almost always condemned. I am sure if they were caught going to church it would have been, according to the long haired liberals, to arrest and torture the priest and most foully too. Well, that happened at times. The church by the way is not a safe haven for criminals. The police can get you there also.
What else? They had their own pecking order which was very important to them. The day they were commissioned, after going through the ranks for years and studying (almost all had a three year diploma or degree) at night, was a big deal to them and their future careers. Once an officer you could expect to be promoted and do more courses until a very select few, less than 0.1% reached general officer rank. This was above brigadier, general rank started at major general, there was no such thing as a "one star" general. In our terminology that would be a second lieutenant and there was no such police rank either.
This pecking order decided who would be promoted first to the next level and why it was so important I would not know. I never became a commissioned officer but am sure, if I stayed on, I may have. All this came to a halt after 1994. I know of men (all white) who are stuck in the same rank for almost twenty years now. Why is this? Ah yes, the liberal wet dream called "Affirmative Action" or "we will promote the incompetents based on race wherever we can" in volksmond (Afrikaans, popular speech). There is not a country in the world including America or Western Europe where Affirmative Action succeeded and won't here either, that is why I say it is a liberal wet dream. I don't disagree with the principles of Affirmative Action but obviously the way it is done in this country is beyond reasonable. We are the only country in the world where Affirmative Action is done against a minority; usually it is done exactly the opposite. The liberals will now state it has to do with "injustices of the past."
I would say the first twenty years after Apartheid that may have been an excuse, not a good one, but one you could understand. Today? With the new generation coming into the workplace? Not so much, it is ridiculous and costing this economy billions. Yes those who left are not paying tax here anymore. So guess who is losing and who is winning in the end? But it does not matter, Affirmative Action will not go away in the next two thousand years and Apartheid will be blamed for anything and everything including Xenophobia and God knows what is next as I don't but I suspect it will be worse.
I am often asked by ex-South Africans or those stranded abroad if they should come back? They have read my books and expect an honest answer. I always say "No, don't come back, this is not your home anymore and not what you were used to years ago. Stay where you are." Have my mind set changed with the recent xenophobia attacks? No, when a country starts denying its history, read destroying or removing statues and attacking what it is sees as foreigners the end it written. We saw this at Nuremburg too when the Nazis burned books because they felt it was not part of their setup. The idiocy of this should be clear, the history remains, whether you removed every statue or not, it remains. Obviously some are too stupid to see this. This too is typical "liberal."
The last thing I learned from commissioned police officers? Respect, they demanded it and would get very obnoxious if rebuffed. In my career I only saw one officer I believed to be a complete failure as a man, a human and a policeman. I believe I wrote about him in my Mean Streets Books. The rest was as I described them to you.
A few days ago my former commanding officer came to visit. I have to tell you the man is not as old as I thought he was in the second Mean Streets book. That I will rectify in the new versions. But he is still as impressive as ever and it reminded me of that great author George MacDonald Fraser who also met his former colonel (who he described as having a neck like a vulture and quite a few other nasty things also). Luckily the man had a sense of humour and so did this one. He only ruefully remarked he "knew what we were up to." Of course he did but as a good officer, the best policeman I have ever seen (this is in the book) he knew when to look away. And that brings me to the last aspect of respect. What do you say when you see a man, married for 36 years to the same woman, open the door for her? You see love, respect and one hell of a man. I will remember that lesson. I wish I could open a car door for my late wife. Every day I wish I could hold her hand or hear her voice again.
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.