From the last post you already know South Africa is the only country I've visited where I didn't feel perfectly safe. South Africa is a beautiful country. In fact, from a scenery perspective it's my favorite country I've visited.
But there is a Darkside to this country. It's not unique in this perspective, but dark nonetheless, I'm talking about the police force can be corrupt.
I've been to South Africa twice. Mainly because I love Kruger national park, but there is much more to the country than these majestic wild animals. The land is diverse and beautiful.
On my first trip to South Africa I landed in Johannesburg. After exiting the plane I advanced to the car rental where I secured my vehicle. From there I exited from the parking lot, but I never made it out of the lot before the trouble began.
Within the parking lot there was a stop sign. Standing on the other side of the stop sign was a police officer. He was a very big man and it was obvious he was there. Normally I would roll through these types of stop signs as there's no traffic, but since it was obvious he was there, I came to a complete stop. After proceeding from the stop sign, the officer pointed at me and told me to pull over.
I was stunned. Was there something wrong with the car? Is there some strange law here of which I'm not aware? Why is he doing this?
It soon became apparent after he checked my passport and license. He said "You didn't stop at the stop sign." I already knew from my trip to Japan that "Stop mean Stop" (https://www.kirkstravelstories.com/post/stop-mean-stop-driving-incident-in-hokkaido-japan)
So I wasn't going to violate a known law in front of him, I knew I stopped, so what do you do?
I responded, "You fat pig, how dare you stop me for no reason? I'm going to call the US Embassy and get your butt fired!"
Ok. That was said only in mind. Do you think I'm nuts? What I really said was, "Sir, I'm quite certain I came to a complete stop".
Of course he did not reverse his position. He told me I would have to drive into the city and pay $100 fine. If I did not pay it, he had my passport number and would phone the airport so they'ld deny boarding if I tried to leave.
Lies! I found out later just what a deceitful man he was. The fine was nowhere close to that. But I was new to the country. I just landed. I didn't want any trouble. He knew that! That's why he was stationed in the garage of the airport and targeting foreigners. He knew they were fresh in the country and were susceptible to this form of corruption.
I knew this was a shake down. I just wanted to get on my way. So I pulled out a $50 bill and asked him if it would cover the fine today. He replied, " It's not really enough but I'll accept it today".
I paid the bribe and was on my way. Welcome to South Africa, I thought. How was the rest of the stay going to go?
Later, I relayed the incident to a local. He was quite upset when he heard it. He said he thought that they had cracked down on that sort of thing but apparently they have not. Then he told me what I didn't want to hear. I had over paid on the bribe. He said a normal bribe for something like that would be in the $5 to $10 range. I think I was more upset over that than I was about being pulled over to begin with. What a fool I was. Always start low.
This incident started my conviction of the dangers I would have to navigate in this gorgeous country. I guess beauty and danger go side by side.
This was not the only encounter I had with the police in South Africa. But that's another story,,,.,