Casually leaning into the side-window of a car stopped at a routine checkpoint on a congested Johannesburg road, a South African policeman tells the driver he needs “a cool drink”. The sun is shining but it’s not really refreshment that the officer is after. As most South Africans know all too well, a cool drink is code for bribe money in these parts. “So what do we do?” asks the policeman, chewing gum under a blue cap sporting the South African Police Services logo, while spinning a set of keys around his finger. Across the road, the number for an “anti-corruption hotline” is emblazoned on the side of a parked police van. Shakedowns are fairly common across the continent. A 2019 Transparency International survey found one in four Africans reported having paid a bribe in the previous year. Almost half of the 47,000 people interviewed thought most or all police are corrupt. South Africa is no exception. In a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world, police have a reputation for being as ineffective as corrupt. Low pay does not seem to be the issue. Constables earned up to 213,000 rand ($11,000) a year in 2018 and warrant officers could make almost twice as much — a decent salary in a country where more than one in three people are unemployed, according to the Institute for Security Studies, an African think tank. “It’s simply opportunistic tendencies from some people wanting more,” an officer with the local watchdog, Independent Police Investigative Directorate, told AFP on condition of anonymity.