Here’s What South Africans Are Most Likely To Spend On Bribes


A bribery survey conducted by the Ethics Institute of South Africa has revealed what South Africans are most likely to pay bribes for – and how much people are willing to pay.

The report was based on a survey of 6,400 people in four urban centres in South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Gauteng and the Western Cape) across all income groups.

A quarter (26%) of the respondents indicated that they, or someone they knew, had been approached for a bribe in 2015 – and 75% indicated that they then went on to pay the actual bribe, showing that most people who are asked for a bribe end up paying it.

The majority of people in South Africa believe that it is impossible to get through every day life in the country without paying a bribe – while at least half believe that bribery is simply a way of life.

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“It is concerning because people start behaving according to their beliefs. If we think that ‘everybody is doing it’ it becomes easier for people to justify bribery to themselves,” the Ethics Institute said.

“There is a need to change the South African narrative on bribery – the truth is that the majority of South Africans still do get through everyday life without bribing.”

What are we bribing for?

The biggest reasons for paying bribes were to avoid fines for traffic offences, with most bribed honing in on the public sector.

However, the report highlighted the private sector is also susceptible to dodgy dealings, where respondents said they would bribe people to get special discounts or to turn a blind eye to questionable activity.

These are the biggest areas where bribes are paid in South Africa

  • Avoiding traffic fines (34%)
  • Getting jobs (17%)
  • Getting a driver’s licence (13%)
  • Getting tenders (6%)
  • Getting illicit discounts from businesses (4%)
  • Avoiding police and criminal charges (4%)
  • Education/qualification bribes (3%)
  • Home Affairs (3%)
  • Housing/land related bribes (2%)
  • Getting access to social grants or pensions (2%)
  • Other types of bribes (11%)

Other areas where bribes were identified in ‘every day’ situations include:

  • To avoid being arrested for drug possession or other crimes
  • When people are busted for drunk driving
  • To avoid having electricity or water cut off at home
  • To speed up application and delivery of ID documents
  • To avoid expulsion from school
  • To get exam papers with a memo

How much people pay

While Limpopo was found to be the place where bribes were most asked for – it’s in the Western Cape where people were most likely to pay the bribe.

The report found that the most frequently paid bribe was R100, but the median amount was R1,000 – shooting to well over R100,000 in cases where getting a government tender is involved.

The average bribe amount mentioned was R2,005 (excluding the top 5% and
the bottom 5% of bribes.)

The following table details the average bribe paid in every category identified by the report:

Category Average bribe
Tender R103 288
House / land R7 585
Social grant / pension R3 435
Job R3 282
Home Affairs R2 932
Driver’s Licence R2 174
Police and criminal charges R2 062
Reduced prices / theft from business R1 854
Education / qualification R1 800
Traffic offence R219


Source: Business Tech

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