Have you ever paid a bribe?

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Offering or paying a bribe is not within my frame of reference. But in Limpopo, almost every day, it seems to be part of life for locals. I heard about a DA committee meeting (surely the last place one expects to hear this!) where one of the members bragged about bribing a traffic cop with two cabbages to drop his fine. The day before I heard about a hotel owner who paid R200 as a “spot fine” instead of the R1,500 he told was was going to get for speeding. I’m sure there was no paperwork for that spot fine!

And in Johannesburg, IOL reported today that members of Joburg metro police’s internal affairs division bribed a motorist to drop corruption charges. This was after the motorist had recorded his conversation with the officer concluding the deal. His colleagues clubbed together to pay the motorist off.

The report went on to quote a union official saying that if a motorist pays a bribe but later reports it, officials ought to consider the matter as “unlawful entrapment” and charge both parties. The traffic department spokesperson said that no one had ever been charged for giving a bribe and reporting it.

Most people in SA’s northern provinces seem to have paid bribes. Have I been naïve or is it as commonplace in the Western Cape?

I read somewhere recently that “corrupt citizens lead to corrupt leaders,” so should we really be complaining about corruption in government circles? Do we just accept that South Africa is a basket case?

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