A taxi driver has been handed a six-month prison sentence for trying to bribe traffic officers with a R200 note.
The sentence was welcomed by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), saying that it sends a strong message to motorists that bribery and corruption is not the way to go.
The taxi driver in question was stopped for driving an un-roadworthy vehicle on a public road. Upon offering the bribe, he was immediately arrested and charged with bribery.
The Atteridgeville Regional Court subsequently found him guilty and sentenced him to six months imprisonment or a R3,000 fine.
According to the RTMC, the National Traffic Police have arrested close to 50 motorists for bribery since the start of the year.
“This conviction will send a message to motorists that they can no longer break traffic laws with impunity in South Africa,” said RTMC CEO, Advocate Makhosini Msibi.
“Our traffic officers are no longer prepared to have their good name tarnished by motorists who are not prepared to obey the rules of the road.”
While news stories about corruption tend to focus on bribery, kickbacks and fraud on a massive scale – such as the State Capture saga, or the looting of VBS bank – academics have warned that small scale corruption like bribing your way out of a traffic fine holds wider-reaching consequences for a country.
Associate professor at Wits University’s School of Governance, William Gumede, previously warned that corruption is becoming so widespread in South Africa that there is a danger of it becoming viewed as normal.
“Once it becomes normalised in society, it will be almost impossible to eradicate it,” he said.
Corruption becomes institutionalised when public officials do not follow the rules set down in a country’s constitution and legislation – and when citizens choose to adopt and exploit it.
“South Africa is in a real danger of following the same pattern where corruption becomes institutionalised,” Gumede said.
According to a Corruption Watch report released in April 2018, the five biggest reasons for bribing in South Africa include:
- Avoiding traffic fines (39%)
- Getting a driver’s licence (18%)
- Getting jobs (14%)
- Public services (8%)
- Police/criminal charges (7%)
The report found that the average cost for all bribes in South Africa was R1,550, with the average bribe for a traffic fine hovering around the R205 mark.
By contrast, obtaining tenders was the most costly bribe in South Africa last year, costing an average of R82,282.