Of all the illegal practices and activities happening in this country, perhaps none is more awful, or threatening to society, than the bribes being paid for driver’s licences.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), as many as one in three drivers on SA roads are in possession of fraudulently obtained licences.
And it is a crime that is almost impossible to detect on the road.
The RTMC’s Simon Zwane says the documents obtained through bribes are “genuine” in the sense that they are on the system … but the drivers have not passed a proper test.
One of our reporters went to a testing station in Johannesburg and, after “hanging around” long enough, she was approached by a driving instructor who told her a “guaranteed” pass could be obtained for R3 000.
An additional R4 000 would buy five lessons and an extra R1 000 would ensure an eye test was “passed”.
It is extremely worrying that our system of driving testing is so rotten that so many unqualified drivers end up on our roads.
But it is just as frightening that many driving instructors – those entrusted with passing on what could be life-saving information – are as bent as those they are bribing.
It comes as no surprise, then, that road safety in this country is so appalling.
People with fraudulent licences are potential – and in some cases actual – killers. And those aiding and abetting them are accomplices to murder.
Perhaps, if people started looking at road safety in those terms – as a threat to national security – instead of spending fortunes on communication campaigns that don’t work, about 20 000 people a year would not be buried in a largely preventable epidemic.
The authorities must find and prosecute all those involved.
And there must be no fines … they must be locked up.