File photo: Philimon Bulawayo

Cape Town – A reckless taxi driver who offered a policeman R50 “for a soft drink” has landed in jail for corruption.

Balungile Mapoqa appeared in the Goodwood Regional Court, before magistrate Constance Nziweni, who jailed him for 32 months for trying to bribe the police official, and reckless driving.

The court heard that police intercepted him as he drove his taxi against the traffic in Langa, in Cape Town.

As the police official explained the reason for pulling him over, Mapoqa offered him the R50 for a soft drink. The police official declined the bribe, and instead arrested him on charges of reckless driving and corruption. Mapoqa pleaded not guilty to both counts, and said he had no intention of bribing the policeman.

The offer of R50 was his way of apologising for the driving violation, but he did hope the police would let him go, he said.

He claimed the road was free of oncoming traffic at the time – disputed by the State – and that he did not endanger the lives of other motorists. The magistrate said Mapoqa had a responsibility to drive extra cautiously whilst carrying passengers, and to obey the rules of the road. She said the courts had a duty to protect the public from abuse and exploitation at the hands of corrupt people, and to deter would-be offenders.

She said corruption was endemic in the country, and she agreed with prosecutor Daniel Cloete that “stiff” sentences were required to stop corrupt people from offering bribes to police officials. If allowed to go unpunished, corruption had the potential to destroy the very fabric of society, she said.