There are growing concerns over the safety of passengers using metered taxis and Uber around Johannesburg.
The taxi systems which have been hailed for their reliability in the past have come under fire recently with reports of the kidnapping‚ rape‚ assault and robbery of passengers.
Popular singer Tamara Dey’s mother‚ Susan‚ was allegedly attacked by an Uber driver whom she had called to collect her from Montecasino in Fourways‚ Johannesburg recently.
Susan told Huisegenoot that she was particularly shocked to discover Uber made her pay for the trip from Monte Casino to the place where they stopped to bundle her into the boot.
Facebook user Akshar Sewkuran also shared an incident where a friend and his girlfriend were kidnapped and taken to Tembisa allegedly by a group of men after they called for an Uber taxi.
“My friend and his girlfriend were leaving Movida nightclub in Sunninghill. They had requested an Uber which they got into and noticed the telltale signs of an Uber‚ i.e. Uber app on phone in the dashboard‚ driver‚ vehicle etc.
“Shortly‚ after departing two men hiding in the boot pushed the back seats forward and got into the front of the car and stabbed my friend numerous times and bundled his gf into the boot eventually pulling my friend into the boot as well‚ all while the car was moving on the highway passing the William Nicol off ramp.”
Sewkuwan said the kidnappers then took them to Tembisa were they forced them to draw money after which they blindfolded and their hands bound with cable ties.
“They were then held in a house in Tembisa township where they were kept through the night and subjected my friend to random beatings through the early hours of the morning. My friend managed‚ after numerous hours‚ to alert a neighbour who alerted the community and rushed in to save them and protected them both before the police arrived‚”
Another user Neo Rantele also shared a story alleging that two of his friends were kidnapped after they had called an Uber taxi.
“A female friend of mine was kidnapped last year and taken to Yeoville‚ Johannesburg by a Nigerian national where she was held and kept on drugs against her will for over two days and she managed to escape and alerted the police.
“Just a little over a month ago‚ another good friend of mine was kidnapped again in an Uber she had called‚ taken to Yeoville and was about to be put under all sorts of drugs and sexual violation when she luckily managed to escape and alert the police‚” he said.
Police spokespesman Lungile Dlamini said they are currenlty investigating three incidents relating to the kidnapping of passengers by Uber drivers.
“We are working on three incidents‚ one reported in Tembisa‚ one in Douglasdale police station and another one from the Yeoville area. There are no arrests made at the moment but our investigations are underway.” Dlamini said.
Uber South Africa is yet to respond to questions sent to them but had previously said: “This is a despicable crime and our first thoughts are with the victims and their families.”
She added that Uber were in contact with the families of the victims and said they have offered their full support.
“We are assisting law enforcement in their investigation and we will continue to provide them with information to support their efforts to bring whoever is responsible to justice
The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has advised riders of metered taxis and Uber transport to be careful..
JPSA chairperson Howard Dembovsky said even though some of these systems claim to screen their operators‚ users need to be careful.
“Its not a problem that is unique to South Africa. Just because a person doesn’t have a criminal record doesn’t mean at some point they will not commit a crime‚” Dembovsky said.
“It comes down to being observant‚ you note the person who is driving you and when they start acting in a manner which is suspicious and then you need to take measures to protect yourself.”
Dembovsky said it’s difficult to give people practical advice on how to protect themselves in situations when one is ‘confronted inside a taxi’.