The General Command of the Mozambican police has suspended from duty an officer in the traffic police who was caught on film extorting money from South African tourists as they drove into Mozambique.

The incident shows the power of amateur videos shot with cell phones. An occupant of the car recorded the entire incident, and put it onto Facebook. It was then reposted dozens, if not hundreds of time. The video is of good quality and the police officer can be readily identified.

The spokesperson for the police General Command, Inacio Dina, confirmed here over the weekend that the officer was the head of the traffic police brigade at the Moamba toll gate, on the motorway from the South African border to Maputo.

The officer started by demanding the motorist’s driving licence and the car documents. But then he departed from normal procedure by demanding that the passenger door be opened. When he saw that the passengers in the back seats were not wearing seat belts, he demanded a large payment.

Open up!, he can he heard saying on the video. Four thousand, four thousand. Seat belts. That will be eight thousand meticais (about 112 US dollars).”

The family of tourists did not have this sum on their person. After haggling, the officer accepted around 200 meticais.

Dina said that when the video reached the General Command, the officer was immediately suspended from duty, and will now face disciplinary and criminal proceedings. This officer could be expelled from the police force,” said Dina.

He was pleased that one of the occupants of the car had taken the initiative to film the incident and urged other citizens, Mozambicans and foreigners alike, to do the same if they face similar illegal behaviour, and to make sure that the evidence reaches the hands of the police authorities.