How much it costs to bribe your way out of a traffic fine in South Africa

 ·5 Apr 2018
Money Rand

Corruption Watch has released its annual report for 2017, revealing how corruption has impacted South Africa over the last year.

The report, titled ‘The Time is Now‘, paints a picture of a more emboldened and vocal public, as evidenced by a 25% increase in the number of reports of corruption in 2017, and the range of interventions undertaken by the Corruption Watch team.

“2017 was a landmark year but it was only reached with great effort on the part of civil society and the media and an independent judiciary,” said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch.

“Above all, it was achieved by an active and vigilant public. Corruption cannot be overcome without those who are willing to blow the whistle. They are the true heroes.”

Lewis added that calling on the public to blow the whistle is the centrepiece of Corruption Watch’s model.

“We call on the public to continue reporting corruption to us. We owe our democracy to the vigilance and tenacity of our people. Increased vigilance is the duty we continue to owe to our democracy.”

Biggest areas of corruption

Since its launch in 2012, the organisation has received over 20,000 reports from the public citing corruption in various sectors – of which 5,334 were lodged during 2017.

As in previous years, the most reports (46%) originated from Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 13% and the Western Cape coming in third with 8% of the total.

The report states that this is less a result of Gauteng being the most corrupt province, but rather due to its population (the largest in the country) and level of economic activity.

Out of the total number of reports, 30% point to corruption at a provincial government level, while 29% allege corruption in national government, and 22% at the local government level.

Of the remainder, 9% were complaints in the private sector, and 10% unspecified.

Most corruption tends to take place at the interface between the public and private sectors, and the most common form of corruption reported is bribery, which accounts for 27% of reports received in 2017.

Embezzlement of funds featured in 13% of reports, followed by procurement irregularities.


According to the report’s section on bribery, 37% of respondents knew someone who was asked for a bribe in the last year  – up 4% from 2016.

In contrast 24% of respondents knew someone who paid a bribe in the last year, also an increase of 4% from 2016.

The five biggest reasons for bribing include:

  1. Avoiding traffic fines (39%)
  2. Getting a driver’s licence (18%)
  3. Getting jobs (14%)
  4. Public services (8%)
  5. Police/criminal charges (7%)

The report found that the average cost for all bribes in South Africa was R1,550, and the average bribe for a traffic fine hovering around the R205 mark.

In contrast, obtaining tenders was the most costly bribe in South Africa last year, costing an average of R82,282.

Read: How Ramaphosa’s ANC promises to clean up corruption

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter