Top reasons why South Africans resort to bribery


According to a South African Citizens Bribery Survey, the top five reasons South Africans resort to bribery are to avoid traffic offences, to secure a job, to obtain a driver’s licence, to get a tender, and to receive unauthorised discounts from a business.

The survey conducted by The Ethics Institute compare how different income groups experience bribery.

The average bribe amount is R2200, up by R195 from last year, while the most common bribe was the exchange of a R50 or R100 note.

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The CEO of The Ethics Institute, Deon Rossouw, said lower income groups find it difficult to get through everyday life without paying a bribe.

“Our survey respondents are typically from a wide socio-economic range, so this year we decided to focus specifically on the difference between the experience of bribery of South Africans in higher versus lower income groups. We found that South Africans with lower income find it significantly more difficult to get through everyday life without paying a bribe, particularly with respect to bribes to secure jobs,” says Rossouw.

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The results show that 48% of the respondents who earn less than R100 000 per annum thought it was difficult to navigate daily life without paying bribes while only 27% of the higher income group (R500 000 and more per annum) believe the same.

There is a certain injustice in the fact that those who have the least resources are most vulnerable to being targeted. It is a reflection of the desperation of many in our society and an uncomfortable reminder that the adage ‘bread first, morals later’ might hold true.”

Of the five provinces surveyed; 32% of respondents in KwaZulu-Natal indicated that they knew someone who was approached for a bribe compared to 28% in Gauteng; 14% in the Free State; 14% in the Western Cape; and 12% in Limpopo.

Key findings include:

  • 33% of respondents know someone who was asked for a bribe in the past year;
  • the average bribe amount is R2200, up by R195 from last year;
  • 18% of bribes are to secure employment; and
  • 51% of bribes were for traffic related offences.