How I lost my Liqui-Fruit

2008-03-24 00:00

Driving through the Eastern Cape is rarely much fun. Besides having to endure the sight of dog carcasses littering the potholed R61, there is always a painful reminder of poverty and, of course, corruption.

It was the 18-hour-long trek from crime-ridden KwaZulu-Natal to the city of Cape Town that exposed me to the degree of corruption.

Cushioned by the leather seats of my new C230 Mercedes Benz that I really can’t afford, I dozed off as my boyfriend chauffeured me through the rural landscape.

I awoke when my luxury vehicle slowed down and was irritated that we had to avoid yet another donkey-drawn trailer.

But to my surprise it was a female traffic officer dragging her African assets. She ap-proached us, hands in her pockets, while her two male colleagues, on the opposite side of the road, tirelessly manned a speed-trap camera.

The pretty officer explained that we had broken the speed limit (apparently we were doing 74 kilometres in a 60 kilometre zone). She instructed my partner to get out of the car and bring the necessary documentation. We were certain that we were not speeding as the vehicle was operating at a respectful and lawful speed on cruise control.

The officer promptly crossed the road back to her colleagues. We were clearly soft targets just like many mothers driving through suburbs. I mean we hadn’t pulled a DJ Sbu*. I instinctively smelled a bribe coming on.

I made it clear to my partner not to offer any bribes — I would rather pay a fine than feed overweight officers.

Anyway, we couldn’t afford to bribe as my sweety Luvo had just parted with hard cash to pay damages for making me pregnant.

Minutes later my sullen partner returned and I asked him how much he had been fined. Instead of answering me, he handed me his ID, reached for the cooler bag and dragged out an ice-cold litre of my sealed Liqui-Fruit.

Yho Modimo, it’s bad I thought. But instead of gulping down the mango and peach beverage, he started the engine and drove across the road to where the officers were stationed (and still the two male officers were tirelessly manning the speed trap camera).

My boyfriend jumped out the car and returned seconds later minus the juice.

We then sped off and at a safe distance from the officers he confessed that he had paid a bribe — the Liqui-Fruit that cost a mere R11,95.

I was aghast. It was far too high a price to pay — personally I wouldn’t even have given half a bottle of warm water.

The pretty officer had apparently asked for his address and occupation. She then answered a cellphone before scratching around for her paperwork that she conveniently couldn’t find.

The conversation floated aimlessly around before she hinted that she was open to a bribe. I’m sure she was disappointed when my boyfriend told her he had no cash but was willing to pay the fine.

Seeing that she couldn’t squeeze any money from him, she demanded something to “drink” (which in bribing terminology is another word for cash).

I do not know if my boyfriend was being mischievous when he handed over my juice instead of notes.

I concluded that our only offence was that we were driving an expensive car, which meant we could afford a bribe, and we are black, which means we are open to being bribed. I hoped that she choked on the fruits of her criminal activities.

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