FICTION: The Bribe, Part One

By Drum Digital
21 November 2016

"Dockets began to go missing, some cases went unresolved"

By Pamela Muyoba

Matomola was just a police officer but he lived like a tycoon. He owned a huge house in the suburbs, he and his wife had expensive cars and their children went to a private school. His wife wore expensive jewellery and designer clothes. They regularly hosted lavish parties in their mansion.

Where there's smoke there's fire. People, especially his unhappy colleagues, began to talk about how corrupt he was. They didn't mean to pry into his private life but circumstances forced them. He became a daily subject whenever the officers went on lunch breaks.

"Did you see how big his house is?" one police officer said. “Even if I ever get my retirement money, I could never afford such a house.”

"Maybe the money's coming from his wife. I hear that she's a businesswoman with political friends," said another.

"That's just a cover up, and besides, what she owns is a small salon. She can't possibly make a lot from it."

Bra Charlie added, "I have been working at this station for a long time and everything was fine until Matomola arrived. Dockets began to go missing, some cases went unresolved. The strange part is that most of the dockets that go missing are for high-profile people, people who would be willing to pay thousands for their freedom."

"We should lay a complaint to the station commander as soon as possible because what Matomola is doing is wrong." They all agreed.

While they were talking, Matomola arrived and they quickly changed the subject. But he had overheard what they were saying about him. He was tired of people talking behind his back, and the thing which upset him the most was that they were right. He was indeed a corrupt officer who took bribes from offenders in exchange for letting them get off scot-free.

It was an easy way of making money, and he had slipped into it almost by accident. Everything started during his first month at Chipimbwe police station, where he'd been transferred from Jozi. A desperate politician who was involved in a scandalous "driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs" case had approached him.

"R40 000 – that's what what I'm willing to give you, and in exchange, I want you to steal my docket and bring it to me. As we know, no docket, no case." That's what the shameless man told Matomola during their secret meeting.

Matomola was hesitant because he had never done anything against regulations before. But the money tempted him to accept the offer. The money was going make his life easier – he had four children to feed and an unemployed wife.

The man tried harder to convince Matomola. He used his political smart talk to win him over, saying: "Think about it carefully because this arrangement is going to benefit both of us. Elections are coming soon and this case could ruin things for me. And as for you, I can tell that you need the money. You deserve this money. Your children deserve a better life."

After that incident Matomola went on receiving bribes. He made a lot of money and changed his lifestyle. He didn't care about arousing suspicion. All he wanted was to enjoy his money. But on the day he overheard his colleagues gossiping about him, he realised that things were getting serious and he could get caught.

“People are starting to get suspicious at work. Today I caught them gossiping about me. What are we going to do?" That's what he told his wife Chuma, but she didn't seem to care.

All she said was, "Let them talk, they don't have any proof whatsoever. You know what – you worry too much."

"What if they get some proof to use against me, what then?"

"We'll figure out something when that time comes. But for now, let's enjoy our money."

To be continued...

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