A Simple Solution to South Africa’s Corrupt Police Problem

police-academyOpen any newspaper or online news source and you are bound to see at least a dozen stories about corrupt police officials in South Africa. The situation has reached a point where its common knowledge that you can make a police file disappear outside a courthouse for a few thousand Rands. Get caught drunken driving? How about driving at twice the speed limit?  You can probably be let off with a warning for the price of a Streetwise 2 meal at KFC. Corruption within the Police Service in South Africa is rampant.

This topic has been discussed for years. Suggested solutions have ranged from harsher penalties for those caught offering and those caught accepting bribes, to increasing the salaries of police officials, to make bribery less attractive. With the thousands of Rands that these corrupt officials make illegally, they would surely be the best paid officials in the world were the government to try and match that. And as for the harsher penalties, that would just lead to the bribe being bigger, as naturally, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. There are a plethora of other solutions, but there is one solution that I believe has been overlooked.

It is simple. Employ more police officials.

We have a terrible unemployment rate. There are literally thousands of people out there who are urgently seeking employment. Here is an opportunity for the South African government to start delivering on their job creation promise. Open the gates for police enrolment. Enrol tens of thousands of police officials as soon as possible. Here is why this will solve the corruption problem. It will make it too expensive for the average South African to afford the requisite bribery to get away with murder, so to speak.

What we want is a long queue of officials to form every time someone opens their wallet to pay someone off for their misdeed. When the police academy draft their list of potential officers, ranking them from most suitable to least suitable, I say start hiring from the bottom. The more corrupt officials that we can get into the service the better. Every road block, every police station, every cop car, should be packed to the rafters with South Africa’s most corrupt officials, and we must insist that the cost of bribery be increased ten fold. You want to pay a spot fine for doing 160km/h in an 80 zone? Sure! R3000 please? And R3000 for him, and another R3000 for her, and R4500 for him, as he is my superior, and R1000 for him, because he is new. And that police file that contains your breathalyser results, you want that to disappear? No problem! It will only cost you R10 000 per officer at the station, in fact, how about a special deal, we can make this go away for R300 000. Good? Great!

Were this to happen, bribery in South Africa would become too costly for the average citizen. And as quick as that, bribery would become the last resort, and the official process would become the preferred option. You would like to get a drivers license? Sure! R10 000 per official, or join the queue over there, and pay the listed fee of R200. This will then lead to all those corrupt officials leaving the police and joining politics, leaving a vacuum for better, non-corrupt officials who aren’t joining the service because of the lucrative paycheck to be earned from corruption.

And the lawless taxi drivers? They will feel it worse than anyone else. Every corner will have a team of Metrocops, looking for a misdeed to solicit a bribe from. With the amount of rule-breaking our taxi industry undertakes every minute of every day, the South African government wouldn’t need to pay salaries, that meagre allowance would be just a drop in the ocean in comparison. Want to see how quickly the lawless become law abiding? Hit their pockets harder than ever, and I promise within a week, you will have taxi drivers queuing with you at every traffic light, and the emergency lanes will only be used for emergencies. Imagine that!