Bribery is on the increase in SA, survey finds

Bribery stock image. Picture: Lowvelder.

Bribery stock image. Picture: Lowvelder.

The survey found the average bribe paid by respondents was a staggering R2 200, an increase of R195 over 2015.

Bribery has increased by 2% in South Africa since 2015, with the majority of bribes paid for traffic offences, a new survey has found.

The 2016 Ethics Institute of South Africa (Ethics SA) survey comes against the backdrop of recent arrests of traffic officials in Gauteng for bribery and illegally issuing drivers’ licences.

The survey found that the public and private sector were close on the bribery scale, but the public sector is leading. The SAPS and the metro police, home affairs and health departments top the public sector list.

In the private sector, the top three sectors were construction, mining and security. In 2015, 22% indicated it was not possible to get through everyday life in SA without paying bribes, while in 2016 that figure more than doubled to 49%.

The survey was sponsored by Massmart-Walmart and conducted in stores in the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape among 4 553 respondents.

It found that the average bribe paid by respondents was a staggering R2 200, an increase of R195 over 2015.

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The most frequently mentioned bribe amount, however, was between R50 and R100, while 56% of bribes were below R1 000 and 91% below R5 000. In 2015, there were significantly more bribes in the R5 001 to R10 000 category, said Ethics SA.

The majority of bribes were paid to evade the consequences of traffic offences – and there was an increase of 2% in this category over last year. The third most common reason, after getting a job, was to get a driver’s licence.

Respondents cited various motivational factors for paying bribes, including avoiding a traffic offence, getting a job, getting a driver’s licence, discounts/free goods from businesses and winning tenders.

Just under half (49%) of respondents said they had never been asked for a bribe. Ethics SA found that half of the 27% who refused to pay the bribe said it was against their moral or religious principles, while 11% were afraid of the consequences.

“Although the public sector was mentioned the most, the private sector was certainly not far behind,” said Ethics SA.

The survey also highlighted that people from low-income groups were more vulnerable to bribery, especially for jobs and drivers’ licences, as compared to higher-earning individuals who experienced more tender-related bribery.

“The results from the survey are at the very least useful in showing that it is in fact the minority of people who pay bribes, and that many South Africans have strong moral views against bribery,” Ethics SA said.

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