The Hawks’ Bellville-based serious corruption investigation team has arrested Renay Claudine Ruiters for acts of corruption after she allegedly solicited a R15,000 bribe from a motorist in September last year.
“Ruiters, 47, is a traffic official who allegedly extorted R15,000 from a person whom she arrested for driving under the influence of liquor in September 2023,” said head of the Hawks’ Western Cape wing, Major General Mathipa Makgato.
“The matter was brought to the attention of the Hawks and the arrest was effected on Wednesday.”
The implicated officer briefly appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and is currently out on R1,000 bail. The case has been postponed to 5 April 2024 to allow for further investigations and evidence gathering.
A growing concern
Traffic officials threatening motorists with arrest while attempting to solicit a bribe – or what is commonly referred to as a “spot fine” – is a growing concern in South Africa’s law enforcement circles.
Last year, the acting Chief of Police for the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD), Basil Nkhwashu, issued a directive encouraging motorists to “fight possible corruption by TMPD officers” by recording their interactions with the officials through pictures and videos, following numerous complaints from individuals who fell victim to corrupt and intimidating officers.
Additionally, he said citizens who are pulled over have a right to ask the traffic official for their appointment certificate which must be on their person, as this is the card identifying them as police.
This, said Nkhwashu, will “make our officers aware of the importance of always conducting themselves ethically, being fair, and respecting the rights of others.”
As one might have expected, however, the directive didn’t go down well with the corrupt officials it was aimed at.
Two weeks after issuance, the City of Tshwane MMC for Community Safety, Grandi Theunissen, said he is “deeply concerned about indications that there is active resistance” against Nkhwashu’s instructions by both upper management and lower-level TMPD officials.
“These decisions and measures are all focused on ensuring a safe, ethical, and disciplined working environment for the benefit of the public and TMPD,” he said.
“Although this does not come as a surprise, I am disheartened by manifestations of active and passive resistance against these ongoing attempts by the acting Chief of Police.”
Instead of senior management rallying around Nkhwashu to restore the image of the TMPD, they did exactly the opposite, noted Theunissen.
“What concerns me even more is the alleged involvement of some of SAMWU’s (South African Municipal Workers Union) representatives in something that I can only describe as support of criminal activities and a smear campaign against the acting Chief of Police,” he said.
“I would have expected the unions to welcome the interventions, which are aimed at improving their members’ working conditions and reputation, and to constructively engage the City and the acting Chief of Police in this process. While I respect the unions and the role that they play, I want to caution against attempts to co-manage the TMPD.”
Examples of incidents like these are not isolated to the TMPD and can be found countrywide, highlighting a growing culture of criminality among those who are supposed to uphold the law.
The Hawks’ Makgato said he is hopeful that this latest arrest would “send a strong message to other lawbreakers” within the police force that their actions will not be tolerated.