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Everyday road-side corruption

Sunday Times Editorial | 2012-04-29 00:19:44.0

Sunday Times Editorial: THE report released by Corruption Watch this week on bribery involving Johannesburg Metro Police officers might not tell us anything new, but it certainly confirms that there is a massive problem with our law-enforcement officers.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said that although motorists ought not to offer bribes when stopped for traffic infringements, the onus was on the officers to behave in an exemplary manner.

Some of the statistics offer a shocking insight into how widespread the practice is.

According to the report, half of Johannesburg Metro Police officers have solicited bribes, and one in four of the city's motorists has paid a bribe.

Clearly we have a problem in Johannesburg.

And it is reasonable to assume that it is not restricted to the city.

The public and the law-enforcement officers need to understand that soliciting and paying bribes is not acceptable.

Far too often, motorists resort to paying bribes because they have been threatened with arrest.

Lewis said: "We often hear the excuse that the public is responsible for offering bribes to traffic officers.

"But we look up to law-enforcement officers to be accountable and exemplary in their behaviour.

"The public would be very reluctant to offer a bribe if they knew that traffic officers upheld the law."

But the problems will continue unless - as Lewis correctly states - those who manage the metro police accept that corruption is widespread in the department's ranks.

And the metro police will have to create a way for motorists to report corruption without fear of recrimination and retaliation.

Unless this is done we will have yet another government department that turns a blind eye to what its employees are doing.

Corruption is already far too prevalent in South Africa.

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