Twelve traffic officers were not asked to plead when they appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court in Mbombela on charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice this week.
The law enforcement officers were arrested by the Hawks in various areas including Graskop, Sabie, Bushbuckridge, KaBokweni, KaNyamazane and Mbombela at the weekend.
The suspects, aged between 29 and 51, were released on R5000 bail each with similar conditions. They were all ordered to appear in court in their respective areas on April 22 pending further investigations.
Included in the bail conditions is that they report to their nearest police stations every Wednesday.
The provincial Hawks spokesperson, Dineo Sekgotodi, said their preliminary investigation uncovered that the suspects had been committing the crimes since 2014.
Sekgotodi said the elite police unit had since been investigating the alleged implication of the law enforcement officers in the crimes until the probe led to their arrests.
She said the officers were arrested at their homes and the others were handed over to the police by their legal representatives.
“The suspects were also informed by the court to hand over their passports to the investigating officers and not to leave the province of Mpumalanga without permission from the investigating officers,” Sekgotodi said.
ANC provincial treasurer Vusi Shongwe, in his capacity as the community safety, security and liaison MEC, also urged community members to expose traffic and police officers involved in criminal activities.
Shongwe said the arrests of the officers would serve as a robust warning to other dishonest officers that the province had no space to accommodate criminals in the security service.
“The Hawks managed to secure warrants of arrest for the implicated officers and staged a sting operation at the weekend.
“We cannot allow some corrupt elements to reverse the gains we have made so far in reducing road accidents and making our roads safer. We should all work together to expose the few corrupt law enforcers.
“They are indirectly contributing to bad driver behaviour by motorists that they are taking bribes from,” Shongwe said.
The arrest of the officers also received applause from the DA as the official opposition in the province.
DA spokesperson for community safety and security Bosman Grobler said the arrests were a disgrace and it was an indication that the officers were undermining the law.
“This case proves that it is not the everyday residents of Mpumalanga who are corrupt but those who are meant to serve the public.
“The DA would like to urge traffic officers to learn to love and respect their jobs. They must avoid corrupt activities and not accept bribes from drivers who are found to be on the wrong side of the law.
“The allegations against the traffic officers are unfortunate as they compromise not only the war against crime, but the government’s efforts to bring to book those who break traffic laws,” Grobler said.