Call a friend. That was the instruction given by a Johannesburg metro police (JMPD) officer to a motorist unable to withdraw enough money to pay a R3 000 bribe he claims was solicited from him.
Independent Newspapers is in possession of audio recordings of two officers secretly taped by Ruddy Milambo while he was being held for 90 minutes, waiting for friends to bring him the money.
Milambo was pulled over by JMP officers on William Nicol Drive in Fourways, just before the N1 to Pretoria on-ramp, in the early hours of March 19.
When he produced a certified copy of his driving licence, he was accused of producing fake documentation.
“I didn’t think anything of using the certified copy. I’ve used it to file an accident report and at other roadblocks without problems.
“I carry a certified copy because I’ve lost my licence before and it was a mission to get a new one,” he said.
Officers then discovered that Milambo - originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but in possession of a permanent residence permit - was a foreigner and demanded to search the car for drugs.
Finding nothing, the officers accused him of producing fake licences and threatened to arrest him for fraud.
They gave him two options - go with them to the police station or pay a R3 000 “spot fine”.
In one recording, a JMPD officer is heard asking if he can pay R2 000.
“I pleaded with them to verify my licence number to prove it was real. They refused.
“When I questioned the fine, pointing out a fine for a motorist caught without a licence was far less, they told me not to be clever.”
Milambo said he was shoved into a bakkie and driven to an ATM at the BP garage down the road.
Milambo unsuccessfully tried to withdraw cash, but had already reached his limit.
In the second recording taken at the ATM, the officer is heard saying: “Isn’t there somebody that you can call?”
A friend quickly came with R600. Milambo had R700 cash on him, but officers allegedly claimed it wasn’t enough.
Milambo was forced to call a friend in Pretoria, who later arrived with R800. The officers then released Milambo and left the scene with the licence copy.
Randburg police spokesman Warrant Officer Johannes Maja confirmed a case of corruption against the JMPD officers was being investigated.
JMPD spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar condemned the officers’ conduct, but warned motorists against giving in to crooked cops or they, too, could face criminal charges, “because both the briber and bribee are party to the act of corruption”. - Pretoria News