The word Nigerians use to describe their West African country is "Naija" and they are proud of their country. I lived and worked there for a few years so I know the place fairly well and much better than the whiners you find in every part of the world where a Nigerian happens to be. As we all know, all Nigerians are drug dealers, rapists, murderers and swindlers or say says the whiners. In fact, it is nonsense. Most are excellent people, educated and fun to be with.
Yesterday I read that the Nigerian Consul General made a speech as politicians often do. It was interesting. She said that 116 Nigerians died violently in South Africa last year and of them 63% were killed by the police and others. It is rather astonishing figures as I am not aware of any South Africans killed by the Nigerian Police, ever. So why is it that warning bells immediately started ringing in my head.
I have contact with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Unlike the whiners I don't look down on them and do not consider them as corrupt and pathetic as the whiners do. I ask questions like why are the jails 400% overcrowded despite new ones which were built after 1994. Why is the criminal justice court roll 3 years behind? Did these criminals surrender by themselves? LOL, obviously not, they were dragged there in handcuffs. Go north my friend and you will see what a really corrupt and pathetic police force really are, what we have is paradise in Africa. It is nonsense to take a few bad apples and spread the word how pathetic the SAPS are and then wisely say it was better in the old days. Even the Bible says it was not and I can tell you, we had our own problems and the same flak all the time. Therefore I keep quiet and I play the man and not the organisation. If a policeman turns out to be a crook then let the law deal with him and the law does deal with him harshly, more so than a normal member of the public. So why is it that the police shot and killed (mostly, or beat to death probably) so many Nigerians?
I don't have statistics so I speculate that it is because they came here to commit crimes. I am sad to say, because I like Nigerians and Nigeria, that many are drug dealers and many are extortionists. It is of no use to deny the truth, rather face it and admit it. And it is utter nonsense in law to say once killed they "have no recompense to justice." I am on record in my legal books to say that our legal system and courts are working and better than most and most certainly in Nigeria where I worked as the senior legal adviser for the largest security company in the world. I know both legal systems and lawyers in both countries. Such a statement, that someone is killed by the police in South Africa without legal recompense is crap. Whenever shots are fired all hell breaks loose and there are decent investigations done by independent units. There are consequences for police shootings and if you know how many millions are paid our yearly for such things you would rather keep silent on the subject.
But then I must also tell you, Nigerians are excellent speakers and have the gift of the gab so we should not take this seriously. Even in their legal pleadings (the most boring documents to read after contracts) they tend to get over excited. I remember the astonishment I felt when reading a Nigerian pleading for the first time. It was of such bad quality that I could not believe a trained lawyer was able to produce it with flowing and unnecessary comments ridden all over it. I kept it for a long time as an example of bad pleadings. And yet, when it comes to contract law, they are as good as any. However their style is remarkably different and we should allow that, not criticize, and allow that we are different. It works for them.
I have to applaud that part of the speech where she said "No one seems to notice that poor white South Africans increasingly find themselves in the same basket as objects of hostility as the foreign undocumented immigrant,” according to newspaper reports. I say "accordingly" because you often read a strange version of the truth when it comes to reporters though I am not suggesting that is the case here. I advise all clients never to even talk to news people unless we have handpicked a few who may be sober enough to understand the press statement. Never trust a reporter is the first rule of business or what you read.
It is true that we have xenophobia attacks against illegal immigrants as the Consul General said. Of course it is wrong and I wonder who allowed our borders to be leaking like sieves since 1994, well, I know the answer, it is obvious. Why are those people here where they are beaten, murdered and brutalized? It is stupid though to say that they cannot depend on the police for protection. Very stupid because the police will arrest them and then hopefully the system will deport them back where they come from. We don't want them here and this is normal to every country except the current USA it seems. There less than 3% of aliens will be deported and police may not even ask where they come from. No doubt in the years to come that will bite them in the ass and I am glad my late wife is not alive to see this state of affairs which is frankly, unbelievably short sighted. Criminal if not more in fact and nothing good will come from it.
Legally, it is not for the police to "protect" the alien anyway. If they did turn a blind eye towards an illegal (there is no such thing as an "undocumented" alien, he is illegal) that policeman is guilty of corruption. So it is a stupid argument to expect the police or anyone else to turn a blind eye, why should they? This is our laws, respect it. The police have to arrest them and get rid of them by which I do not mean abuse. I mean according to our laws which we expect you to abide with. The fact that Nigeria apparently likes foreigners (very debatable) is really not our concern but their concern. By the way, you are ALWAYS asked for your papers in Nigeria. It is a nice way of trying to extort money out of you to check you work visa every now and again. So that part of the speech was also nonsense. They do ask for you papers and see expats as money spenders.
I often say to business executives who undergo my briefings...do not come to Africa and think you know more than us than we who lived here all our lives. You may be a hotshot in New York but here we will take you to the cleaners. In a place like Nigeria you are known as an "ATM" because you spew money if you are pushed correctly. Ninety nine percent of your troubles are caused by your executives not following our laws. What do you think will happen if we catch you defrauding the tax man? Or you are not registered as you should be? Or you do not pay your workers, our people, the pensions or minimum wages as stipulated by law?
They all stare at me in astonishment when I say such things and even more when I ask them what will happen to an African who does that in America? Or France? Or Germany? Or wherever? And so we learn to respect each other.
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.