Saturday, December 18, 2010
Adventures of Johnny John and a bribe hungry Johannesburg traffic cop
Living in a metropolis has its advantages and disadvantages but at this moment Johnny John was glad that he was not a permanent residence of Johannesburg. Being Christmas time, the buzz of shoppers, suppliers, hawkers, taxis, buses, etc, made him want to rip tufts of hair off his head. The heavy rains worsened the situation because of poor visibility and also because some traffic lights stopped working. Poor Johnny John, usually a law abiding motorist, was forced to succumb to the law of the jungle that pedestrian and motorist alike had to subject themselves to, in order to manoeuvre within the swerving, pushing, jostling, shouting, hustling and hooting madness. One might as well have been trying to make one’s way down a swamped street in the centre of Lagos, New Delhi or Beijing.
Inching his way along Von Wielligh Street and crossing Jeppe street, it was most frustrating to see that some drivers had parked their cars so as to encroach the outer lane. This created a bottle neck of traffic and Johnny John thought of how it could not get any worse than this. He spotted a free bus lane that at that moment had no buses on it. He decided to take his chance and pretend for a few minutes that his car was a bus. The jungle law was after all the prevalent law of the moment. Just his luck, the moment Johnny John touched the bus lane, in movie fashion he heard a siren and flash of lights as a Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) vehicle signalled for him to pull over.
The officer (not the one pictured above) did not come out of his car but instead invited Johnny John to come into his car since it was raining. Johnny John knew that the rain had nothing to do with being called into the car. The officer demanded Johnny John’s licence. He handed it over, nervously fiddling with his cellphone as he watched the Metro traffic officer page through the fine book, wanting to show Johnny John what the charge for driving on the bus lane was. Johnny John’s pleas for mercy and attempts to justify using the bus lane fell on deaf ears. The only way that he could be forgiven, he was told, was if he could “buy the officer a drink.” Johnny John told the officer that he had left his money in the car, knowing very well that he had money on him. He went into his car, fiddled with his wallet and his cellphone and went back to the police car. He leaned through the window, dropped the money discreetly into the car and was handed back his licence. “Travel well and be careful, it is a jungle out here,” said the metro cop, suddenly a concerned officer.
At that moment Johnny John had deep respect for Cliff the Pigspotter, the man despised by law enforcers and loved by motorists for tweeting accurate warnings to over twenty thousand followers on twitter about police road blocks and speed traps in the Johannesburg area. Surely the Pigspotter was justified to use the term “pigs” in his tweets? “Thank you officer, I will drive safely, but one more thing, may I please have my money back?...”
Why does Johnny John lie about the money being in his car when he had it in his pocket? Why does he bribe the traffic officer and soon after that demands a refund? Is he opting for a hefty fine or even arrest? What exactly is Johnny John up to? Let us find out tomorrow in the second and final part of this story. In the mean time please share this with as many friends as possible who might want tips on handling bribe hungry traffic officers.