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What are my rights when a state official asks me for a bribe?

By abiding by the responsibilities you have as a road user, you will mostly minimise the possibility of being pulled over, thus minimising your exposure to potential conflict with law enforcement authorities. When interacting with any law enforcement official, you have the responsibility to treat that person with the same dignity and courtesy that you would like to be treated.
 
If you get aggressive or hostile, the chances are that the law enforcement official will do likewise.  If they are hostile to start with and you remain calm and respectful, you will not give them any ammunition to become more hostile with you and you may even defuse the situation. You have the right to establish the identity and legitimacy of any law enforcement official. 
 
You may demand to see their appointment certificate (identity card). The Criminal Procedure Act is very clear in stating that an officer who cannot or will not provide an appointment certificate on demand is in violation of the Act and that any actions that he or she takes will be unlawful if such a certificate is not provided. The best stance to adopt is one of neutrality and observation and to ensure that you abide by your responsibilities to the letter so as to quickly assess what kind of officer you are dealing with.
 
Unfortunately, corrupt law enforcement officials are prolific in South Africa. Each time that a bribe is paid, the situation worsens, simply because a corrupt society cannot exist if there is no-one who is prepared to pay a bribe. If a bribe is solicited from you – whether it is by means of a direct solicitation or by a mere suggestion that your situation can be dealt with differently, you have the responsibility to resist the urge to pay a bribe and to report the fact that one has been solicited from you to the appropriate authorities.
 
If you don’t feel comfortable with reporting these matters to the authorities themselves, then you can always make use of any one of the following:

• Corruption Watch at www.corruptionwatch.org.za
• Crime-line by SMS to 32211
• Public Protectors Office 0114922807

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