You know or should know that law is for boring people and if insane it will help too, I am sure. Nothing is clear in law which makes it an absurd science. There is always a “but” or as the say a “caveat” so that you, the client, don’t get it and hence pay more fees. Yep, there are many ways to buy a new Mercedes for the wife and the secretary doubling up as mistress over Christmas. Jokes aside, we also have something called proportional defence against an attack.
You find it in the common law, from Roman times as well as in international law (the most boring subject after criminal law, my word, even for them). Let me explain and go back into history which is more interesting and have a look at 1980s South Africa. Yes, the good old bad days where everything worked and white women had no chest area, they had stars and the smell of teargas ever present if anywhere close to places like Tokoza, Soweto proper and a myriad of other places. The South African Police Force, of which I claim proud membership for six years, was keeping law and order and enforcing laws they had absolutely nothing to do with in creating. Now if you read my police books, known as the Mean Streets Series, all 1050 pages (well, that is the Afrikaans & English versions combined), then you will know I explain in some detail that a police force has zero ability to refuse to implement laws created and enabled by parliament. Unless a court order stops them, they are bound, by an oath (taken seriously) and law (even more serious) to implement the laws no matter how unfair. This should be simple to even a liberal but (see, BUT) they will then point to the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War and state that “no illegal order must be complied with, in other words, it can and should be refused!”
Yep, I can see they don’t really get South African Police Force training, having not had the good luck of such an education in manners, discipline and indoctrination to win at any cost and always react violently. It is in the books and whilst a fair statement from the long haired brigade, in practise almost unworkable. I can tell you, and if your read the books you will understand, no junior member would ever argue the point too much and yet they were not automats or even stupid as many believed they were. In fact, they were following legal orders as defined at the day. But (see, BUT) and this is interesting, as the years went on, the ability of the Police Riot Units to kill, was taken away! Yes, very interesting and I myself realised it only when writing the books. You see now, in Africa, a police force is an army in disguise, well able to conduct counter terrorism and counter insurgency and the police killed 90% of all terrorists (as they were called at the time) in the South Africa Border War as well as an astonishing 98% inside South Africa. This made me wonder, why? And also, why not more? I have some experience in riots in those days and I simply looked at the weapons issued to the different units. The results were startling.
Yep, astonishingly, 80% of a Riot Unit section, of ten men or you can make this a thousand men, does not matter, it stays at 80%, had no weapons to kill humans with. Only 20% had assault rifles, the ever present R1 known as an FN or SLR (later R4 and R5 Galil), the rest, shotguns and birdshot and the 37 mm Stopper. Besides the assault rifles, no chance to kill anyone at a long distance. On the border area with counter insurgency, the police patrol could only kill. All had R1 rifles with a MAG light machine gun, hand grenades, white phosphorous grenades and the ability to call in airstrikes as well as mortars. So what happened? The police generals took away the deadly force weapons and got themselves a doctrine in how to respond to rioters. You could not arrive and open fire, that is nonsense unless something else happened, something life threatening. The crowd had to be warned to leave, in three different languages and give time to leave, reasonable time, and have an avenue to escape. If not, the officer in command faced criminal charges from the over eager legal turds willing to help the innocent for a very large fee paid for by the international community of liberals, churches and other concerned idiots. Yet, they saved considerable life and limb by implementing these rules and it came down to proportional response as demanded by the law and it is a fair system.
BUT (here we go) it is not that simple. What it means, in real life, in simplified English (I should teach law, it is so easy to explain) it means that if someone attacks you, you cannot just respond and kill the fellow. No, you have to up your defences in stages and not go overboard. You get? Look at the riots. First the warnings (with the escape avenues, enough time, and in a language understood by most), then teargas, then perhaps a good old-fashioned baton charge, then birdshot, and only then (and almost never) you are able to use deadly force. If these steps are not followed, and you cannot prove they were attacking you and trying to murder you, you will be found guilty of murder or whatever else harm you caused.
So what do you think of Turkey, shooting down a Russian bomber after 17 seconds in its airspace? Not attacking Turkey, not even inside Turkish airspace anymore when the missiles were fired and unable to defend itself against a F16 Fighting Falcon? Proportional? No, never and if Russia takes this to court, and they might, Turkey will pay millions in compensation. Is this a reason for war, an “act of war,” yes, absolutely and many expected such a declaration which would have brought NATO in immediately! Did they really give ten warnings as claimed by the excuse makers in the White House? The answer does not matter in law, where is the proportional aspect of this? Ten warnings, really, in 17 seconds, and then open fire with deadly force? On an aircraft already leaving your airspace? Which constituted no threat? Hallo, wake up and go on your knees and say thank you that Russia don’t destroy you utterly. This is pathetic in law and common human decency and trying to defend it shows clearly, you could not have been a very good lawyer and politics a logical choice then.
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.