CHARMAIN NAIDOO: When the rule of law goes, anything goes
'I bribed an officer of the law, and in so doing behaved in exactly the same way that I viewed as repugnant when I saw it being done around me. It was a hard lesson'
I was in a hurry and so, as I roared down Central Road in Houghton, failed to see the traffic cops trapping for speed with what today would be a primitive pointy thing that apparently registered how fast you were going. A handlebar moustache swathed in khaki stepped out from behind a bush and held up his hand.
I screeched to a halt. The process of the negotiation began. Did I know I was doing nearly 80 – 77.4kms/hour maam to be exact – in a 60km zone. I didn’t know that, but I was terribly sorry officer.
I needed to get to the art school, he was determined to draw out the process. In the end, I dipped into my handbag, whipped out the R100 he’d been waiting for and handed it over – for a few beers over the weekend I said.
He waved me off. I was 15 minutes late.
I’ve never forgotten that bribe. It has always made me feel small and ashamed. Completely ashamed.
My father’s most terrifying stories always began with Once Upon A Time. He’d teasingly insist that they were “cross my heart and hope to die” true. Since that was the oath preferred by schoolgirls, (I was a schoolgirl), and steeped in the religious significance of the cross – coupled with my father’s staunch Catholicism – I trusted the veracity of the tales of terror. They always had a didactic theme. Lessons, my father believed, like Jesus before him, should be told and learnt through parables.There were a number of subjects: the inherent dangers of not telling the truth to the mortal sin caused by theft. At the end of the “always tell the truth” story Lying Lily gets dangled over the edge of a cliff. From the bottomless pit below came a stinky, smoky sulphuric gas. Fire and brimstone Dad would say. In the end, my Dad always allowed for some sort of redemption. Lying Lily repents and is, of course, rescued by an angel and flown to safety. Light fingered Lily didn’t fare so well. Sh...