My dad was a smart man, a regional court magistrate, which is something like a district judge in my late wife's tribal area. He always said the most dangerous thing in the world must be an oom (Afrikaans, uncle, older man) driving with Free State number plates in the city. If he happens to be wearing a hat you better let him go pass you before he bumps into you for the man would be thinking of his corn field back at home. Being a farmer himself he did not meant this derogatory at all and showed a fine sense of humour not usually associated with boring legal men.
He also said the second most dangerous thing in the world is a drunken police constable with a firearm. It is unfortunate that he had to send a few to jail for crimes they most certainly committed. In court he had no sense of humour and was known as a hard man but also a compassionate one. It was many years later after I passed the bar exam that I read his judgments and discovered a superb legal brain. But then, I come from a family of lawyers and as you know turned out to be the black sheep. Hence I say that my dad was wrong with the constable example. I know of something even more dangerous.
These days I am often asked by members of the police or state services (meaning prosecutors etc, not spies) whether they should resign and leave for private practise. Many of them had read my books, either the legal ones (they must have been very bored) or the Mean Streets Series (not boring). My answer is always the same. No, don't leave. Hell no, stay where you are.
This is obviously not what they want to hear and they immediately ask why not? They then explain how much knowledge they have. The thing it, that knowledge is limited. Also because the market place is filled far beyond capacity already, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sort of over, there are tens of thousands of gunslingers available for almost nothing. That is the first point and unless you were in the Special Task Force Unit of the police you have almost no chance in getting in unless you know someone. But it goes deeper than that, there are many fly by night operators out there who don't follow any rules. If you get hurt you will not be paid a nice pension and receive medical care, you will be on the street. If you are captured you will probably be beheaded or burned to death. And you will be paid peanuts in comparison with overseas operators.
That is a sore point to me I addressed in Tricks of Trade - Memories of a Rogue Lawyer. You will not convince a European company, never mind an American one, that you are of better quality than their lads. I saw it in Nigeria where the UK lot got paid twice and more than us Boertjies. Why? No reason except the illogical "I am better because I was at a UK University / British Army" attitude. Sadly, they know nothing of Africa and make fools of themselves and their companies when here. We have trained lawyers and doctors and MBA's for more than a hundred years on this continent and we know what we are doing. The legal system is not the same though it is comparative, if you get the South African one you will understand any other jurisdiction where an English Colony existed. But that does not make you an expert. I have seen many UK barristers make fools of themselves here and in Nigeria. I will never recommend their services and am very glad to have them as opponents; I know I will walk circles around them because I am the local expert. They, I am sure will return the favour when I am in the UK, a place I have no desire to see ever again.
I must also admit that I have a serious problem with those trying to advise others without practical knowledge. I see them as hypocrites. Many times I read a daily devotional written, I hope (am not sure, I really doubt it) by a reverend or pastor in which he explains the word of God to poor people. However, the man has never experienced that kind of poverty himself. He lived a nice middleclass life as a kid; he went to college and then started working earning a nice salary every month. He has no idea of the tears of a mother who has hungry children or cannot afford school fees or medical aid when ill. He knows nothing and yet, he quotes the Bible like a Pharisee of old. And then he goes all the way to annoy decent people...he feels so strongly about his message that he writes a book on the subject of which he knows nothing and now he sells it. I have a problem with that.
I also sell books, at times. Sometimes I give them away for free but every book I feel strongly about, like Your Worst Enemy, written for poor people to legally defend themselves against banksters is free. Why is that? Because it cannot sell as one idiot in Australia told me? No, because I feel strongly enough about the message to say take it. Here it is for free. I will never charge money for it and if I lose money because of it, that is fine. My actions have clearly shown my motives, I decided to help the average Joe on the street and I did. I doubt if the selling pastor can say the same but he can explain his ways to God, not me. I know I have the moral high ground here. On the spy thrillers I sell under another name - you know what, they are entertainment, fiction. As such there is no need for me to give them away for free but I can tell you this. Ten percent and more of my books, entertainment or non-fiction, is always paid to deserving organisations. I do what I can to help.
Now to get back to our question, should you resign? I say again, no. You have very little knowledge which will make you survive in the private sector. Yes your mates may do well; perhaps they have a good job. But remember, this is not the state service; here you can get your ass fired quickly and then what? You have, if a white man of my age, a 93% chance (according to statistics) of not, repeat not, finding a job again. Then what? Your wife will probably leave you, I don't believe in love without money...yes I may be wrong and cynical but you know what, I dealt with many many divorces because of this very reason. You lose your income you lose the respect of the woman who says she loves you (she never did, obviously).
Let me explain practically. You are used to buying Christmas gifts because you get your salary every month and can afford to do so. Now let me explain again, the private sector is not like that. You are sometimes paid late or not at all. Then your debit orders at the bank crash and you pay penalties and lose your good name and ability to borrow money (a good thing but irksome). Time may come when there is no money for Christmas gifts and birthdays become just another day. It has no meaning to the poor; ask me, I was there after losing my high paying job. You learn this lesson only once and then you realise you don't need gifts anyhow but your kids and loved ones do and you feel the terrible shame of being unable to provide. Don't let your job go, you are not trained to survive in the private sector.
These days I believe the most dangerous thing in the world, to themselves and their families, is the man who got a pay-out. Some get a gratification payment (lump sum) and now they are open game to shysters. All of a sudden your friends and children want to borrow money from you. Strangers want you to invest in their schemes and the banksters also call. They target you as they target widows. Chances are you will lose your money and everything else with it. Don't be stupid, keep your eggs safe and remember, a former bankster manager is the worst person you can ask for advice - he knows even less than you of the real world. Before you do anything, speak to your lawyer. Most have seen the above countless of times and will tell you exactly what I said above.
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.