Bribing the cops

Roy conducted an interesting experiment the other day.  When caught talking on his mobile phone by one of Joburg‘s finest, he managed to ‘negotiate’ the fine down from R500 to R50 and, in the process, sparked quite a debate about the ethics of such ‘negotiations’.

There are different views on this sort of thing, especially given recent events, which has become fairly commonplace in many parts of South Africa.  What happens here isn’t unusual and doesn’t mean that we live in a lawless society.  I suspect it is a product of poor funding and difficult economic conditions experienced by our metro police.  Anyway, the way it tends to work is that a driver is pulled over for speeding or talking on a mobile phone without a handsfree and is informed about the fine for such activities.  The traffic cop then opens the door for a bribe to either reduce or forget the fine and often the driver pays up.

I have had a couple of these encounters and the approach that works for me is to agree to the fine on the basis that I did something I shouldn’t have.  If the cop is out for a bribe then he tends to wave me off rather than deal with a situation where he opened the door for a bribe, discovered I am a lawyer, and found himself faced with someone who wants to do the "right thing" and pay the fine.  It kinda screws up their plan a bit.  But that is just me.

Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

  1. Hey Paul…

    Hehehehehe. The ethics of this are clear: bribery is unethical. I’m not proud of the fact that I bribed a traffic cop.

    I’m wondering, though, at what point blurring one’s own personal ethics becomes acceptable. Some scenarios, ranging from extreme to slightly more subtle…

    (1) You’re Jewish. It’s 1939. The last ship out of Nazi Germany is sounding a long slow horn indicating it’s about to leave. You know you’ve GOT to get out, and the only way to do it is to bribe the guy letting people onto the gangplank. It’s a substantial bribe. And it’s in your back pocket. Do you bribe the guy? Do you not bribe the guy, and thus prevent you and your family from escaping?

    (2) You’ve just arrived at the Zimbabwe border in your 4×4 en route to Kenya. You KNOW that a bribe is a normal part of doing business at these border posts. Do you pay the bribe and continue your journey? Do you not pay the bribe and get turned away? Do you not pay the bribe and spend a week in a holding cell?

    I dunno. It’s easy to be moralistic. Less easy to be morally correct.

    (And I’m NOT digging at you or Jane (the person commenting on my post) on this one. Cos I happen to agree with both of you.)

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

  2. Hey Paul…

    Hehehehehe. The ethics of this are clear: bribery is unethical. I’m not proud of the fact that I bribed a traffic cop.

    I’m wondering, though, at what point blurring one’s own personal ethics becomes acceptable. Some scenarios, ranging from extreme to slightly more subtle…

    (1) You’re Jewish. It’s 1939. The last ship out of Nazi Germany is sounding a long slow horn indicating it’s about to leave. You know you’ve GOT to get out, and the only way to do it is to bribe the guy letting people onto the gangplank. It’s a substantial bribe. And it’s in your back pocket. Do you bribe the guy? Do you not bribe the guy, and thus prevent you and your family from escaping?

    (2) You’ve just arrived at the Zimbabwe border in your 4×4 en route to Kenya. You KNOW that a bribe is a normal part of doing business at these border posts. Do you pay the bribe and continue your journey? Do you not pay the bribe and get turned away? Do you not pay the bribe and spend a week in a holding cell?

    I dunno. It’s easy to be moralistic. Less easy to be morally correct.

    (And I’m NOT digging at you or Jane (the person commenting on my post) on this one. Cos I happen to agree with both of you.)

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

  3. Hey Paul…

    Hehehehehe. The ethics of this are clear: bribery is unethical. I’m not proud of the fact that I bribed a traffic cop.

    I’m wondering, though, at what point blurring one’s own personal ethics becomes acceptable. Some scenarios, ranging from extreme to slightly more subtle…

    (1) You’re Jewish. It’s 1939. The last ship out of Nazi Germany is sounding a long slow horn indicating it’s about to leave. You know you’ve GOT to get out, and the only way to do it is to bribe the guy letting people onto the gangplank. It’s a substantial bribe. And it’s in your back pocket. Do you bribe the guy? Do you not bribe the guy, and thus prevent you and your family from escaping?

    (2) You’ve just arrived at the Zimbabwe border in your 4×4 en route to Kenya. You KNOW that a bribe is a normal part of doing business at these border posts. Do you pay the bribe and continue your journey? Do you not pay the bribe and get turned away? Do you not pay the bribe and spend a week in a holding cell?

    I dunno. It’s easy to be moralistic. Less easy to be morally correct.

    (And I’m NOT digging at you or Jane (the person commenting on my post) on this one. Cos I happen to agree with both of you.)

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

  4. Hey Paul…

    Hehehehehe. The ethics of this are clear: bribery is unethical. I'm not proud of the fact that I bribed a traffic cop.

    I'm wondering, though, at what point blurring one's own personal ethics becomes acceptable. Some scenarios, ranging from extreme to slightly more subtle…

    (1) You're Jewish. It's 1939. The last ship out of Nazi Germany is sounding a long slow horn indicating it's about to leave. You know you've GOT to get out, and the only way to do it is to bribe the guy letting people onto the gangplank. It's a substantial bribe. And it's in your back pocket. Do you bribe the guy? Do you not bribe the guy, and thus prevent you and your family from escaping?

    (2) You've just arrived at the Zimbabwe border in your 4×4 en route to Kenya. You KNOW that a bribe is a normal part of doing business at these border posts. Do you pay the bribe and continue your journey? Do you not pay the bribe and get turned away? Do you not pay the bribe and spend a week in a holding cell?

    I dunno. It's easy to be moralistic. Less easy to be morally correct.

    (And I'm NOT digging at you or Jane (the person commenting on my post) on this one. Cos I happen to agree with both of you.)

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

What do you think?

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