By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Two Otjiwarongo traffic officers were arrested recently by members of the graft-busting agency the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on charges of bribery. It is alleged that the duo solicited bribes of N$300 from motorists who were flagged down for speeding. The two were caught after a driver reported the incident to the ACC for investigation. Confirming the arrest yesterday, Detective Inspector Phelem Masule said the two officials, identified as 34-year-old Divai Humphrey and 28-year-old Steve Biko Hoeseb, allegedly solicited the bribes after they flagged down speeding motorists on the B1 Road between Otavi and Otjiwarango. After the offending drivers were stopped for cruising over 160 km per hour, instead of being given spot fines, the suspects allegedly extorted bribes of N$300 from each driver. After the N$300 was paid, those who wanted receipts were threatened. Scared of spending a night in a police cell, the motorists paid the bribes but raised the alarm and reported the case to the ACC whose agents swung into action. In one specific case last Sunday, a driver who was travelling with two Chinese businessmen was speeding while travelling from Oshikango. After he was stopped, he was made to sit at the back of a police Toyota bakkie. “They arrested him and placed him in the police vehicle to feel the discomfort of arrest,” said Inspector Masule, adding that it was only after the driver had no choice but to pay the N$300 to the officials, who allegedly shared the ill-gotten money among themselves, that he was released. After being tipped by aggrieved members of the public, ACC agents went with some of the complainants and during an identification parade the suspects were positively identified. It turns out that this was not the first time that such incidents have occurred in the traffic department. In July this year, an elaborate piece of undercover detective work saw several people, among them policemen long suspected of soliciting bribes, and a junior government official who ‘bought’ a diving licence, being arrested in a case that is yet to be finalised. This happened when detectives mapped out a plan of action to pounce on the syndicate after they were alerted by the Roads Authority about allegations of driving licences being sold by a syndicate involving corrupt policemen. The modus operandi was that prospective drivers, after having failed tests for vehicle driving licences at NaTIS, were told about a “shortcut” to a driving licence without complications by people involved in the issuing of licences at the licensing authority. Certain individuals whose role in the syndicate was to solicit bribes of N$1 000 so that they could facilitate the issuance of licences for sedans, or a larger amount of N$ 3 000 for trucks, played a pivotal role in the scam. It is corrupt scams like these and many others that the ACC would like to expose and cut down in the first place. Sharing this sentiment, Director of the ACC Paulus Noa said that through the latest arrest, “We want to warn officers that the public is aware of what they are doing, especially in soliciting money from the public through bribery.” He noted that the ACC was working round the clock to root out corruption. The two suspects in the latest bribery case appeared yesterday in the Otjiwarango Magistrate’s Court and were released on bail of N$1 000 each. The case was postponed to November 14 this year for further investigation and to enable the accused to seek legal representation.
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