Traffic cops and empty wallets

The rampant corruption among traffic officers in the area have several stakeholders very worried and have prompted various meetings to find solutions to the problem.

As mostly overseas tourists were (and still are) targeted, the HCBT’s warning cards were a great way to inform them and to act as a deterrent for officers looking to try their luck.

My encounters with traffic officers have been relatively positive thus far. I’m still one of the few people who try to keep to the speed limit and, thus far, have never received a traffic ticket. The few times I have been stopped (usually to check the car for defects or to check that my license is still valid), I have found that my nicest smile and sincerity can do wonders to improve their tempers.

A few years ago, I was stopped by a traffic official in Limpopo for supposedly exceeding the speed limit. He walked to my car window with a serious face and told me that I had transgressed and that I could even go check his meter if I so wished.

I simply smiled up at him and told him that it wasn’t needed and that I trust him.

I could see the surprise plainly on his face and the next moment he turned and walked away with a ‘just go’.

I can’t remember whether I actually did exceed the speed limit and he was just merciful to this young girl with her old car or if he was looking for a quick buck just before the weekend starts.

But ever since then, I have always made a point of smiling and being extra polite to traffic officials. You never know, it could mean the different between a huge fine and a polite wave-off.

I have heard from others, that they rarely keep cash in their wallets (we are in the digital age after all). This apparently deters officials as they won’t harrass you much for R20 or R50.

My wallet is mostly empty for security reasons but if approached, I would rather pretend that I have no idea that they want a bribe.

I have been told that some officials either get so frustrated with this person not realising what they want or so flustered that they have to spell out the fact that they want a bribe, that they end up not following up the request.

To learn more about the HCBT’s corruption warning cards, click here.

Share your experiences regarding our ‘speed cops’ with us in the comments section below or on our facebook page.

Retha Nel

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