Image: 123RF/Sentavio
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There’s a picture that does the rounds on social media every few weeks‚ showing 15 lanes of gridlock‚ with hundreds of cars going nowhere. Basically‚ it’s Cape Town when it starts to drizzle.

Under this startling image is a caption: “In Germany the government has increased fuel price [sic]. In just one hour of time [sic] people abandoned their cars on the streets and avenues and walked home. Over a million abandoned cars. They had to lower the price. When the people are smart the corrupt can’t accomplish their goals.”

Every time the petrol price is about to rise in South Africa‚ that picture is everywhere‚ usually accompanied by enthusiastically revolutionary comments. Yes! We should do this too! If it worked for the Germans it can work for us!

Unfortunately‚ it didn’t work for the Germans. The photograph was in fact taken about 10 years ago‚ in China‚ and showed an immense traffic jam‚ not a protest. There is also no evidence that a mass car-stranding ever happened in Germany.

I understand the desire to scream‚ but of course I don’t blame the government when the petrol price rises. The state has no control over the oil price and‚ barring the sort of wilful demolitions performed by Jacob Zuma‚ very little over the dollar-rand exchange rate.

What I mind‚ however‚ is that when I spend my R15.43 on a litre of petrol‚ over 12% of that is being flushed down a vast gurgling hole called the Road Accident Fund‚ or RAF.