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Traffic cops taking bribes in SA: Readers share their stories

2016-12-06 08:25

DECIDE FOR YOURSELF: A JMPD traffic officer, captured by a dashcam, has been allegedly engaged in corruption. Watch the clips and decide for yourself. Image: YouTube / ArriveAlive

Gauteng - A recent altercation at a roadblock, captured via dashcam, between the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and a motorist, shows alleged corruption.

The driver? Tony Beamish, senior investigative journalist from Carte Blanche. Beamish shared footage of the incident, originally posted by Arrive Alive, with Wheels24.

We asked readers to share their roadblock stories and included their opinions at the end of this article.

Roadblock altercation 

He was stopped on West Street, Sandton on November 28, 2016. The officer, says Beamish, was believed to have introduced himself as "George". Beamish admits to the officer that he had a "double whiskey at about half-past five" that evening. He was stopped by police after 20:30pm however adds he had a "heavy meal three hours prior".

Beamish said: "I have become accustomed to JMPD officers soliciting bribes in West Street, Sandton (opposite Bowmans) almost every night. I live in Benmore Gardens. The officer - called George - asked where I worked and, when I told him, observed: It's going to spoil your everything. He refused to show me the breathalyser reading."

He has since attempted to investigate the matter and is pursuing legal options. 

Watch the two videos below and decide for yourself:

Calling his lawyer

Watch as he contacts his attorney and was advised to leave quietly once the officer was willing to "give him a chance":

Voting booth

We asked readers whether to vote on the issue regarding traffic officers soliciting bribes in SA and our poll garnered 28 488 votes.

The overwhelming majority (85%, 24 137 votes) said that corruption is rife throughout the country.

2% (695 voters) said that bribery was uncommon in their province/city.

3% (867 voters) said that it depends on the time of year, while 10% (2789 voters) believe that it's only a problem in a few areas in SA.

Have you experienced corrupt police officers in SA? Email us or reach us via Facebook  and Twitter.

Readers' respond

Geraldine de Lauwere: My ex-husband had been at his hockey club and left just after 8pm. In exiting the club, he was stopped a short distance by a police officer. However, this officer didn't have a name badge although he was in uniform. The police van was parked quite a distance away. When he stopped my ex, the officer asked if he'd had anything to drink, to which he replied: "One beer."

The officer then said that it was a problem and very serious. My ex knew what he was getting at and said how big. To cut a long story short, the officer said this was very serious. My ex was asked how much money he had on him and when he replied R200 he was told that it was more serious than that.

The cop then asked for his licence, told him to move into the passenger seat and he climbed into the driver's seat. The cop drove to a nearby ATM with the van following a distance away. My ex tried to draw money, but couldn't. This cop took him to further ATM's about 4km away where he tried to draw money. At the third ATM he withdrew R2000 which he gave to the badge-less cop. The cop went to the van, climbed in and off they went - leaving my ex to now go home. Corruption over and over and it doesn't stop!

John Doe: I read your article and watched the video about the traffic cop at a roadblock or sobriety check point looking to bribe a motorist and refusing to show him the reading on the breathalyzer.

When I was visiting Durban, SA in June/July, our taxi was stopped by a Metro PD at a roadblock  for a headlight globe that had fused.  The cop had the driver walk to the side of the police van.  The taxi driver then came back to the taxi, got a R50 note out of his center console, walked back to the police van, gave it to the cop and was then allowed to return to the taxi and we continued on our way.

In the USA, that offense would have been a warning with 7 days to get it repaired... no bribe, no ticket, just a written warning.

TomB said: Here's my proposed standing orders for alcohol testing in South Africa

1. Given the extent of bribe requests by traffic officers in South Africa, the officer when approaching a motorist should be equipped with a body camera.  Until such time as body cameras have been acquired, a second officer must be present and alongside 

2. The officer, when pulling the motorist over, must introduce themselves by give their rank, name and surname and explain the reason why the motorist has been pulled over.  “Hello.  My name is Constable John Smith.  You have been randomly stopped here in West Street, Sandton, to a breath test to ascertain whether  you are over the limit.

3. This is how it will work.  This machine is not an evidential tester.  The limit is 0,05 whatever.   If you blow and are over the limit, I will ask you to blow a second time.  If you fail a second time then I will have to arrest you and an evidential breath test will be done at [van/police station/ whatever]. This machine works as follows:  in the case of JMPD blow on it.  In the case of X traffic department I will take a tube out of this sealed packet, attach it to the machine and you will be required to blow into it.

4. Whether you pass or fail the test I am obliged, in terms of our standing orders, to show you the results on the screen of this device.

5. You will see here that the machine currently reads 0,00 whatever.  Please blow.
6. (a) Sir.  The machine reads 0,00.  Here it is.  You may go.  Thank you for your assistance.

(b) Sir.  The machine reads 1,00  Here it is.  You have failed the test and I will wait two minutes and give you a second test.  If you fail that test I will be obliged to place you under arrest.  -Two Minutes]  Blows again.  Sir.  The machine reads 0,95.  Here it is.

WATCH: Joburg traffic cop corruption caught on dashcam?

7. I am placing you under arrest. You will be taken to a police station whatever where an evidential breath test will or done or blood will be drawn.  [Officer then explains those procedures.]

Nayna Manga: I drove from Maputo to Nelspruit. On exiting the South African side of the border we were stopped by traffic officers for not stopping at a traffic stop sign.

Not even a kilometre up the road we were stopped again by traffic officers who checked everything in the vehicle and then fined us for a rear passenger not wearing a seat belt. 

Needless to say both of these fines were settled immediately behind the scenes with the traffic officers.

I was travelling with Mozambican friends, and it is quite apparent that mainly Mozambican cars are being stopped. I am appauled as a South African, because I have never been stopped for such trivial matters. 

This is easy money for the traffic officers as Mozambicans don't want unnecessary problems or trouble.

Hannes: I was stopped at the same roadblock indicated on the dashcam footage on November 29 around 9.20pm and my experience was similar to Tony's. 

I can also add the following:

Because I attended a dinner where I had wine, I tested my alcohol level with an Alcoscan tester which indicated a blood alcohol level of 0.4%. The tester of the officer indicated that I failed his test, without indicating a blood alcohol level. I then repeated the test in front of the officer twice and showed him the 0.4% level indicated by the Alcoscan.

He insisted that his tester was correctly calibrated and suggested I have mine calibrated. When I offered to accompany them to have my blood drawn for a sample, he indicated the following:

1. Two suspect were sitting in the police van waiting to be taken to hospital to have their blood drawn;

2. If they were to have my blood drawn and tested, I would have to spend the rest of the night in the holding cells while the alcohol content in my blood would be analysed;

3. My car would be taken to the police area for safekeeping.

When I agreed to follow this procedure, he told me to drive off. After reading Tony's account, I suspect that the equipment used by these officers is sufficiently inaccurate to be very inconvenient to motorists. I do not condone drunken driving, but I try to take precautions in order be able to drive safely after having controlled amounts of alcohol.

I am just sorry that I did not take down the name of the officer.

Read more on:    gauteng  |  police  |  corruption  |  drunk driving

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