An Eastern Cape traffic officer caught on video brazenly extorting a bribe from a motorist has resigned.
The extraordinary footage which went viral purports to show uniformed Mnquma municipality traffic officer Zwelithini Ntukuntezi, 37, counting out and then pocketing cash notes.
His employers, however, said he will be facing the full might of the law.
Mnquma municipal manager Silumko Mahlasela said six other traffic officers who were seen on the video would also be investigated.
Mahlasela said there might be more to the saga as he had a report on corruption “but we cannot yet divulge it to the Dispatch”.
In the video, the officer is seen taking money from a motorist, and seems to have no idea that his words and actions are being recorded close up.
In the one-minute video, the officer can be heard speaking isiXhosa, telling the driver that they had not yet agreed to anything.
He is seen sitting half-hidden in the back seat of a red vehicle, with his back to the driver’s seat and with the rear passenger door sheltering him from public view, counting nine blue and red notes.
In a reference to someone apparently sitting in a truck nearby, the officer says to a black motorist: “We have not agreed to anything yet. You should have dragged that white person with you to see what he is going to say.”
As he counts out nine notes, the officer complains about the state of the notes. “The money is grubby! Where do you keep it?”
The motorist replies that he keeps the money in the truck.
The motorist seems to ask the officer for a cut of the bribe money. He pleads with the officer to be given a “cold drink”.
The officer continues: “Do not keep money in the truck! You should have dragged the white guy to add more, at least you were going to get a cold drink.”
The two are heard arguing, and the traffic officer instructs the driver to pass at the same spot next time.
Mahlasela said Ntukuntezi joined the municipality as a traffic official in 2014.
Mahlasela said: “I just received his resignation letter from the chief traffic officer. He sent it through someone else because we have not seen him yet. Strangely enough, we can’t find him at his house and he is not answering his phone.”
Mahlasela said they would bring criminal charges against Ntukuntezi of accepting a bribe and bringing the name of the municipality into disrepute.
“We picked it up on social media on Thursday. Our policy is very clear on the issue of corruption, on what should be done.
“We are going to find the facts; thereafter all those implicated will definitely need to appear for disciplinary processes.”
He said: “If there are issues that are beyond what we have seen on social networks then we will get external investigators.
“The purpose of this is to root out corruption so that the municipality was guarded by our policy. We are very sensitive when it comes to issues of corruption.
“We will do further investigations. If there are others involved, even if it is not from the video, but from previous occasions then we will bring them to book. We are also investigating everyone who might be implicated in this.”
“What is shown in that video is deeply concerning. It goes against everything we stand for as the department, and everything we strive for as we aim to curb the carnage on our roads.
“We wish to commend the person who took the video for exposing the rot among us. What is left is for us to act. It is through partnerships like this that we would be able to win this fight.”
According to Weekend Dispatch Ntukuntezi tendered his resignation at 2pm on Friday, after disappearing from work.
He sent his employers a one-line letter, stating his name, employee number and occupation as a peace officer with the Mnquma council, tendering his resignation “with immediate effect” and adding “hope my resignation will find your favourite (sic) consideration”.
Social media users aired their views widely.
One user wrote: “It’s very simple, when you pay public servants peanuts, you will get this. You will never bribe a cop in a first world country because they won’t throw away their [pension package] and income for a bribe. Let that sink in.
“Pay them well and they won’t stray from their job.”
Another posted, “Provincial traffic is the most [corrupt] department in South Africa. That’s why they have pro laser cameras so they can stop you and take bribes.
“We should sign a petition against manned traffic cameras.
“This only creates a platform for corruption.”