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DATE SITE LAST UPDATED:
26 May 2013
FSG is a LEVEL 4 B-BBEE
FSG has corporate
are no stupid questions, just stupid people who do not ask questions."
In order to be a realist you must believe in
One balmy evening in 1985, Willem Jardine, the founder and incumbent CEO of FSG, lay on his bed, one eye on his ancient black and white TV balanced precariously on a wobbly table, and the other on a novel that was developing into a good read. He did not know it at the time, but he was about to become the sole proprietor of the entity that would become FSG.
He was 24; six feet of lean gym, mountain climbing and squash-enhanced muscular fitness, whose sum total of moveable assets consisted of not much more than said bed, TV, table and novel, all crammed into a two roomed apartment on the top floor of a run down, low-rent building that was propped up by the auctioneer's house that occupied the ground level, and the black-owned legal practice that occupied the level in between. The second room of the apartment was entirely unfurnished.
Behind Jardine lay several years in a Catholic seminary (training as a Catholic priest), and several more years of university study, where he attempted to complete a degree in Theology but did not as he was repeatedly distracted to pursue yet another subject that did not count as a credit towards his intended degree, but from which he learned all nature of wonderful things in his quest to find his personal Holy Grail, and from which he gained nought of formal educational value. Working nights to pay his way through university, years of sleep deprivation and finally realising that his Holy Grail did not exist in a book, he capitulated and abandoned the lofty heights of academia.
For the immediate past year he had been performing "community service", working in an obscure intelligence capacity for a government department as an alternative to incarceration for refusing to participate in conscripted military service; choosing to avoid the risk of being posted to some black township to shoot other South Africans for no reason other than that they were born black and objected to Apartheid; the policy that relegated black South Africans to a legislative state of perpetual economic, social, moral and intellectual inferiority; a policy that was crumbling under the mass of the will of the majority black populace of South Africa in a bloody civil war being fought in our black townships and so-called homelands.
It was also a civil war of which most of the white, ruling population was blissfully unaware - except for their teenaged/early twentyish sons that were the "other side" of this civil war because of compulsory, conscripted military service for young white males. Government largely controlled what media it did not own and used this massive propaganda machine to both convince conscripted soldiers that theirs was s holy war to halt the spread of communism and to keep all other white South Africans ignorant of the fact that a civil war was raging in the country.
Showing on TV was the government-controlled South African Broadcasting Company's sanitised version of the "news", pointedly reporting everything but the civil war that was not happening. The broadcast included an interview with a mercenary-turned-private investigator named Aubrey Brooks (who Jardine would come to know quite well in later years). Serendipitously (but with the benefit of hindsight. probably more akin to being struck on the head with a stout walking stick yielded by a feisty granny), Jardine's future lit up like a a runway that illuminates for an approaching aircraft in the dead of night. "I can do that," he thought, forgetting his novel. "What is investigation about if not research and intelligence gathering; is that not what I have been doing for the past seven years?"
The next morning Jardine bunked work, visited the auction house he lived above, overbid on a beautifully restored antique oak desk and an eyesore of a battered office chair to disgrace it with, wrote a rubber cheque for his purchases, hauled them into the empty room of his apartment and declared it the office of his newly established, as yet nameless, private investigation practice. He then successfully concluded his first business transaction by phoning his bank manager (never having had cause to do so before) and convinced him not to bounce his cheque!
His office established, Jardine visited a paging service and left with a pager bound to a 24 month service agreement that he had no idea how he would service, but took solace in the fact that the service fee was payable monthly in arrears. On the way back home he stopped at the local newspaper and purchased the cheapest advert in the history of classified advertising; "PI for hire. Tel. (paging service number)".
Two days later came the first instruction, a horrible child abuse thing that turned out to be no more than an unfounded, malicious allegation on the part of one of two equally inept parents fighting over the custody of their young kids, but at R 20.00/hour Jardine was earning daily damn near the equivalent of a months' salary from his intelligence job - more money than ever before - and the case dragged on for two months, thanks to the daft insistence of his client that there had to be evidence of child abuse. He also learned the dubious arts of covert electronic surveillance and break-in and entry, a necessary accompaniment as the covert listening devices he had installed in the flat of the parent with whom the children lived had to be fitted with fresh batteries every 48 hours. As Jardine had no idea how to pick a lock, he had to obtain a key for the flat. His client was a highly paid and skilled tool-maker whose precision was proportionate to his blood-alcohol content, but who amazingly nonetheless delivered on his promise to produce a key for the flat if Jardine could get a wax impression of it. So Jardine sourced some bees wax, stole an old ink stamp pad from his government employer (an act he justified as his contribution to undermining government's immoral policy of Apartheid), emptied it, filled it with melted bees wax prepared in the laboratory of his kitchen and, after following the ex-wife around for a few days, managed to chat her up in a pub and get a wax impression of her flat key when she went for a pee.
Back then, the only covert listening devices available transmitted on the commercial FM bandwidth and had a maximum range of about 75m. It meant two things. Firstly, the chances of some idiot dialling his radio to tune into Springbok Radio to catch the latest episode of "Squad Cars" (by the way, go to http://www.springbokradio.com/ where you can listen to tons of archived Springbok Radio shows and a "live" replay of the radio station's broadcasts of yesteryear - delightfully nostalgic stuff if you are of a certain age...), and unexpectedly ending up listening to his neighbour shagging her new boyfriend, was almost inevitable. Secondly, to listen to the communication transmitted by the device, the surveyor had to be positioned no more than a stone's throw away form the device - which over an extended period of covert surveillance required ever more creative disguises to blend unnoticed into the surveillance environment. An assortment of wigs, eye-glasses, skin dyes and ragged indigents' clothing were quickly acquired!
The case ended when, after surviving on a couple of hours sleep a night for two months, Jardine's client banged on his flat door at 03h00 - his alcohol infused breath strong enough to strip to flesh off Jardine's skull - demanding to know why Jardine was not out surveying his ex. Semi-deranged and witless from sleep depravation, Jardine grabbed the idiot, dragged him to the nearest balcony and threatened to throw him over it - which prompted the client to terminate Jardine's services and taught Jardine his first lesson about client retention...
But, by then Jardine had enough cash in the bank to carry the business for a few months, was regularly receiving new instructions, had employed an assistant - and could no longer fool his government employer that his increasingly lengthy absences could be explained by his job description. So he quit, although he was theoretically committed to a five year stint of so-called community service. But he did his homework. The genius' who drafted the legislation that recognised conscientious objectors to military service failed to make provision to sanction someone banished to five years of community service who then decided to walk away shy of mandatory five year period.
These are the humble beginnings of FSG, an entity created only from a serendipitous vision (or demonic intervention - depending on your point of view), sleep deprivation, the acquisition of a few dubious skills, the desire to succeed and the stupidity to refuse to lay down and die when things got really tough - which they did - often. But despite all, today, FSG is a national forensic investigation, strategic audit, intelligence gathering and analysis, tracing, loss, risk and security management service provider that:
Jardine will tell you that FSG is just starting to take the shape he envisioned from the start - even though he is no longer 24, lean, or fit. While he is still driven by his adolescent idealism to see justice done, these days he is more like the proverbial brick shit-house - but one with an intolerance for fools, who cries in feel-good movies, who needs glasses to read, who still races motorbikes in 300 kph plus territory, who has been tamed by the corporate responsibility of accountability to FSG's incredible group of shareholders ... and whose highlight of the day is tucking his 8 year old "laatlammetjie" daughter into bed!
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