The idea of traffic officers stopping motorists for “cooldrink money” has become so entrenched, it is often the source of memes and jokes, but this past weekend saw a crackdown.
Experts have welcomed the arrests of six law enforcement officers last week in Mpumalanga. However, one says it would be interesting to see how the arrests would be handled and whether there would be any convictions and jail times.
Six law enforcement officers, four traffic officers and two South African Police Service (SAPS) officers were arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation in collaboration with the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit on Friday.
Hawks Mpumalanga spokesperson Dineo Sekgotodi said: “It was established during a two month investigation that the suspects were operating with impunity, demanding bribes from unsuspecting tourists, failure of which, they would be arrested.”
She explained that the suspects were allegedly soliciting bribes since April between Komatipoort and Middelburg. Three of the six accused, Khethiwe Mkhabela (42), Lucky Mabena (37) and David Mahlare Ntuli (34) appeared in court on the same day of arrest on charges of alleged corruption and were granted bail of R1,000 each.
They are expected to return to court next month pending further investigations. The other three suspects are expected to appear in court tomorrow.
Justice Project South Africa founder Howard Dembovsky said that although he was reservedly happy with the arrests, more work was needed. He said “the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit is terribly understaffed and it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with”.
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage said it was good news and that more arrests of this nature were needed.
“Minister Fikile Mbalula is making the right statements about getting to the bottom of the issue. We are not there yet but this is a good sign,” said Duvenage.