Over half of bribes to traffic cops

24 November 2011 - 15:28 By Sapa
Cash. File photo.
Cash. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

While only 5.6% of households have been asked to pay a bribe to government officials from 2008 to 2010, more than half of those requests were by traffic officials.

"More than half (52.8 percent) of those who were victims of corruption were asked to pay a bribe to the traffic official to avoid traffic fines," StatsSA found.

Being asked for a bribe to avoid a traffic fine was most common in Gauteng (62.2 percent), Western Cape (57.6 percent) and Eastern Cape (55.8 percent).

The second highest bribe solicitation was for policing (21.4 percent).

Households were asked if any government or public official asked for money, favours or a present for a service they were legally required to perform.

Other sectors where bribes were solicited include driver's licences (15.9 percent), job seekers (13.8 percent), pension or social welfare grant (6.6 percent), water or electricity (7.3 percent), housing (8.3 percent), medical care (2.8 percent), court-related services (3.9 percent), schooling (3.1 percent), identify document (13.3 percent), prison visits (1.5 percent), and customs (2.2 percent).

Traffic-related bribe requests were up 20 percent on 2007 and 25.1 percent on 2003.

Policing bribe requests had increased by 2.8 percent since 2007 and driver's licences by two percent. Employment or job bribe requests were down 0.1 percent.

Bribes asked for identity documents or passports had decreased by 3.2 percent and for pension or social welfare grants by 2.8 percent.

Bribe requests related to schooling had dropped by 0.1 percent and for customs by 0.6 percent. Medical care-related bribes had increased by 0.7 percent.

A separate survey by the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International found that corruption and bribery were getting worse in southern Africa.

In four out of the six countries surveyed, people reported paying bribes to speed up services, but in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo more bribes were paid to avoid problems with the authorities, it said on Tuesday.

The survey, titled "Daily lives and corruption, public opinion in southern Africa" surveyed more than 6000 people in the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2010 and 2011.

The survey asked questions about nine public services: police, judiciary, customs, registry and permit services, land services, medical services, tax revenues, utilities and education.

Fifty-six percent of people who came in contact with public service providers had been asked to pay a bribe in the past year, the survey found.

Across the region, 62 percent of people believed corruption had become worse in the past three years.

Those polled in all six countries named the police as the most corrupt service provider and the one which had received the most bribes.

In five of the six countries, people trusted the government more than non-governmental bodies, the media, international organisations and the private sector to fight corruption.

Only in Malawi were non-governmental organisations trusted as much as the government.

The good news was that 80 percent of those interviewed said they were prepared to get involved in the fight against corruption, Transparency International said.

"Governments must wake up to the fact that people will not tolerate corruption any more and start reforming weak institutions, particularly the police," Transparency International regional director Chantal Uwimana said in a statement.

"People have a right to feel that they are protected by the police and not harassed."