By Zaheer Cassim
Wits law students and Corruption Watch teamed up yesterday to talk about bribery on the roads as part of the organisation’s ongoing No more tjo-tjo campaign.
The event, hosted by the university, saw about 50 members of the Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) group addressing Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Wayne Minnaar about ongoing problems youngsters face when dealing with metro cops and traffic departments.
“It is not us who are practising corruption, it is the [police],” said one student after Minnaar stated that citizens who offer bribes are just as guilty as the police officers who accept them.
Minnaar was adamant, though, that wrongdoers within the JMPD would be dealt with if there was sufficient evidence.
“From the JMPD, we will never tolerate corruption,” he said.
Students then asked Minnaar what the JMPD was doing to enforce this and how the department could guarantee that a case would not be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
“In a disciplinary hearing you don’t have to prove beyond a reason of doubt. We look at probabilities,” explained Minnaar.
The chief superintendent urged members of the public to report to the JMPD the accurate time, location and name of the officer who asked for a bribe. He said this could go a long way in ensuring that corrupt officers are expelled from the force.
Metro officers will from now on have their names embroidered onto their uniforms, so the public can positively identify them at all times, Minnaar added.
In addition to accounts of corruption on the roads, students spoke about friends who tried to get their driving licences legally, but were purposefully failed because they didn’t give a bribe to the testing instructor.
Representatives from the Gauteng Province Driving School Association, who also attended the event, said they had been working with the local authorities for years trying to deal with the problem, but had not seen any changes at testing centres.
Association representatives also told students that if they believed they were unfairly failed, they had the right to appeal and be reexamined by another driving instructor.
5FM radio personality Gareth Cliff, who also participated in the event, talked about his brush with the law earlier this year when he was arrested for speeding 180km/h on the highway.
“If I’m stupid enough to speed again, I deserve the consequences,” he said. “Personal accountability is the only thing we should be worried about.”
Although Cliff was critical of his own behavior, he added that the process of being arrested and appearing before a magistrate took too long and that regular South Africans would rather pay a bribe than go through this process.
“Doing the right thing cost me time and effort,” he said.
Corruption Watch’s Bongi Mlangeni was more optimistic that South Africans would rally behind the “no more tjo-tjo” cause, because unfettered corruption would result in the country turning into a “banana republic.”
Earlier this year Corruption Watch met with senior officials from the City of Joburg to advocate for urgent and stronger action against corruption and bribery in the JMPD.
The meeting was a follow up on the April launch of the organisation’s No more tjo-tjo campaign and the release of The law for sale report, which came with five bribery-fighting recommendations.
“It appears the city manager and the JMPD chief have taken our recommendations seriously. A strategy to strengthen and enhance the city’s anti-corruption efforts has been drafted and we were informed that it would be presented to the Mayoral Committee before it is made public,” said Corruption Watch executive director, David Lewis.
The strategy shown to Corruption Watch responds to every recommendation and outlines actions the city will take to respond to corruption and bribery.