In South Africa you hear stories about people brushing against the corruption of the Police but it doesn’t sink in until you actually experience it. Today I was stopped by a pointless roadblock doing nothing more than harassing innocent citizens, checking for expired licenses, expired roadworthy certificates and the likes.
Unfortunately my car’s roadworthy certificate had expired some months ago (forgot to check it, didn’t receive an update notice) and I was pulled over. Oh crap, I thought, what have I done wrong now?! What happened next was a series of exchanges that can be summed up as velvet gloved intimidation tactic aimed at loosening my grip on the cash in my wallet.
They jokingly threatened to “moer me” (slang for beat up), threatened to impound my car and leave me on the side of the road, threatened me with a massive fine. What the hell? Luckily I had the sense of mind to “just act meek and friendly”, you know, like a beaten dog?
Here’s a (rough) playback of the conversation:
Police (smiling): “Happy New Year sir, how are you today?”
Me: “Good thanks, is there a problem?”
Police: (still smiling): “Yes, your license disc has expired, come look!”
Me (looking): “Geez, I had no idea, I never received the reminder”
Police: “Oh, we’re going to have to impound the car sir (pointing at the tow truck conveniently parked on the side of the road), we’ll have to tow it”
Me: (trying the sympathy card) “What? But I’m on my way to work, I have to work on New Years Eve, all I want to do is get it over with and get home”
Police: “You know the fine is R2500 for this infringement, and we’re going to have to tow the vehicle”
Me: “Come on, do you really have to tow the vehicle? It’s only 3 months expired”
Police (talking to his 2 buddies now, laughing): “Maybe we should moer him? You think we should moer him?”
Me: “Why do you want to moer me? I’m just going to work, want to get the day over”
Police: “Can I see your drivers license”
Me (giving license): “Sure, I think that expires 2013”
Police: “Yes, 2013, I think we should moer you”
Me (realizing what he’s actually after): “Listen, I know what you want, you know what you want, why don’t you just ask me”
Police (to his buddies again): “Maybe he’ll buy us lunch, or maybe we should just moer him…(laughing)”
Anyway, this diatribe went on and on for several minutes, eventually, realizing I think that he wasn’t getting a bribe out of me and not wanting to do the paper work, he waved me on.
So that’s my experience of the corruption in this Banana Republic I call the country I live in and I’m now more determined than ever to get the hell out of Dodge. This country has no future, not when the very people that are supposed to protect it are the same people destroying it…