I was asked yesterday, what is the legacy of Apartheid? Someone read my police autobiography where we look in some detail into the history of South Africa, trying to understand what went wrong and she contacted me with this question. “What is the legacy of Apartheid?” I tried to answer it in the books as the Mean Streets Books are in no way the usual “I was there” type of books or I hope not, they are supposed to be more serious than that. They are written for the reader to sit back and wonder, what if?
The problem with such a question is how far does a legacy like Apartheid stretch before you run out of excuses? We find this in law also. How far can you blame a fellow for an injury done to you. Let me explain, in law we have something called “causation,” that is where you injure someone, and now you are held liable for that injury for the time being. There must be no intervening cause though, nothing else must have happened to worsen the injury, you cannot in all fairness be held liable for that further injury and is known as the “but for” test. As it is with law, a practical example is much easier than the boring academic explanations you study at university. Let us say “A” injures “B.” As “B” is wheeled to an ambulance, she is struck by lightning (or dropped by the ambulance lads). She would not have been struck if she had not been injured in the first place. Clearly then, “A” caused “B's” injury on the ‘but for’ test. However, at law, the intervention of a supervening event renders the defendant not liable for the injury caused by the lightning or dropped by the ambulance lads. This is fair enough and also the time limits, usually, when a man dies of his injury one year after obtaining it, you would be hard pressed in court to be held responsible for murder instead of assault (hugely different punishment). So the line must be drawn somewhere when it comes to legacy, or being held responsible.
Now the picture in South Africa is damn bleak to be honest. We have unemployment levels unheard of anywhere in the developing world with 70% of the matrics now leaving school, being unable to find employment. I put it differently in my books. I said in the worst time of the 1933 Great Depression, the USA had 18 to 24% unemployment. Today we have twice that and to some analysts 3 times that and all of us agree, we would love to have Great Depression levels of unemployment. Whatever the statistics, it is pathetic beyond belief. What comes from such unemployment? Crime, drugs, prostitution and hopelessness which you cannot comprehend unless you were there yourself. Even the Holy Bible advises poor people to drink wine to forget their sorrows (said tongue-in-cheek). What else is happening? People have left and are leaving and no, unless utter morons and unable to make it elsewhere, seldom come back and yet, some of the turd brigade (they talk what they float in) will say “good riddance.” Problem is, those leaving, are the cream of society. The educated ones, our doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, academics (no lawyers, they are not the cream of society in any sense of the word). It is sad when you lose such talented people and another myth - most are non-political - they are not all racists and they are not all right wing whiners although you get them too. Most leave because they see no future here and rightly so. I am also willing to bet, that there are hundreds of thousands more wanting to leave if only they could. What does this tell me? Big problems, they see no future in South Africa and they are from all races, not just whites.
Speaking about races, that is another legacy which I find irksome. As much as Apartheid was a failed racial experiment, what is happening now is the same. When you watch a soapy on television (thank God I don’t) or talk to producers (I do) then you find out everything there is according to race – so many whites, so many Indians, so many coloureds and so many black actors. Stereotyping taken to the extremes and it is killing the effectiveness of such programs being so unreal it is scary. In fact, it is thinly disguised social engineering and we saw it in the US and other places also. Have you ever noticed something about the Bill Cosby programs? Besides the anti-Apartheid sticker on the fridge? Yes, successful, happily married, ex-serviceman, educated professional man being portrayed and why not, we love success stories and I was a big Cosby Show fan then. These things are not by chance, it is by design. The same is happening with advertisements in South Africa, never just white or just black, always a nice mixture betraying a utopia which does not exist in real life, so it is all rubbish and I pray more would wake up and see it. Race should not play a role in your thinking or marketing, but it does, a very large role.
So what else do we have in the Apartheid Legacy? We saw the unemployment, the rise in crime, the depressing emigration of our social elite, the social engineering in every television show, media and printed media (thank God for self-publishing) and what else? Well, we got a good Bill of Human Rights which is working, I would shudder if it was not there and it is for you to invoke it. See this fellow who recently laid criminal charges against the social media racists? Yes, the law is neutral, you abuse it for your purposes or it is useless to you. The law cannot help you unless you invoke it, always remember that. Defend your rights. On the positive side, we don’t have limpet mines exploding all over the place but then we have riots, violent ones. We have a perceived pathetic police and army, endemic corruption and a complete lack of hope for the future. That is probably the legacy which the ANC will one day have to answer for, the way they managed to get the hope of the 1990s destroyed utterly. You can blame Apartheid for everything, rightly so up to a point, but not for the loss of hope I see around me. That was the intervening cause and the causes were and are numerous. I wonder, how far down can we go before we wake up.
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.