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Cape Town women ‘assaulted’ by Uber driver, ‘threatened’ by SAPS

Update: Upon request for comment, Uber’s representatives sent Memeburn the following statement.

We are deeply committed to the safety of all who use the Uber app. Immediately upon hearing of any situation involving a rider or driver, Uber takes the necessary steps to investigate the allegation and is in contact with both the rider and driver to offer support.

Uber has an incident response team who are trained to deal with any critical safety issues and works with the relevant stakeholders in order to resolve any incident with a matter of urgency.

We are constantly developing new technologies to ensure safety before, during, and after every ride. This includes tracking all trips using GPS from beginning to end; enabling riders to share their ETA or route; and incorporating feedback from riders and drivers. These product features are available in-app and are in every city we operate in around the world. All of this happens on top of a driver screening process.

As a general point of principle, if there is any allegation of wrongdoing by a driver using Uber they are immediately prevented from accessing the app until an investigation can be concluded.

Original article: A Twitter thread documenting an incident of “assault, attempted murder and abduction” involving Uber South Africa and the South African Police Services (SAPS) is this weekend making the rounds on the social network.

Zuki Lamani, a student and Uber user in Cape Town, recently requested the company’s services to travel from Yours Truly in Bree Street to Saint Lounge in Harrington Street. But after her and her accompanying friends’ boarded the Uber, their night took a turn for the worse.

A string of 20-odd tweets describes the incident from her point of view, involving an Uber driver and eventually the SAPS.

“We ordered an uber from Yours Truly to Saint [sic],” she begins her series of tweets.

“The uber was an avanza because it was XL bc we thought there’d be more than 4 of us [sic].”

When her other friends decided to make alternative arrangements, Lamani and two other friends took the uberXL.

“This is where it started. On our way the uber driver went to the opposite direction from the usual way to get to Saint,” she continues.

The following tweets speak of the driver’s anger after Lamani questioned his choice of route.

‘He then opened his boot and took out a hammer was shouting ‘I will kill you”

He then grew angry, was asked to cancel the trip and drop off Lamani and her friends but he refused.

From there, the Uber driver then got out the car with “door locked”.

“He still didn’t cancel the trip and went to speak to another man,” Lamani adds.

After seeing the men, Lamani called SAPS for assistance.

“I, MYSELF, SPOKE TO THE POLICE. I requested they pls send policewomen because we are girls and scared,” she tweets.

“Anyway ONE policeman arrived. He was a black guy as old as my dad, I assume,” she continues.

The situation then escalated further.

The Uber driver beat her friend like he was “fighting with some one his size”, Lamani describes.

Lamani then got involved in hopes to defend her friend, but she was also assaulted. The Uber driver then opened his boot and “took out a hammer” shouting “I will kill you”.

Another SAPS vehicle then arrived, but the two police members “DEFENDED” the Uber driver.

After the incident took place but before this series of tweets were posted, Lamani also uploaded a two-minute Twitter video of the confrontation with SAPS. This tweet has received over 440 retweets since it was posted.

The police then left Lamani and her two friends with the Uber driver. They “ran to the nearest moving cars and found a cab” which transported them back to university residence.

Lamani’s following tweets explains her difficulties in reporting the incident to authorities.

Uber South Africa and SAPS comment

Since the above thread was published to Twitter, the two secondary parties involved added their commentary to proceedings.

Uber: ‘Our team has contacted both the rider and driver partner. We’re following up on this and taking the appropriate actions’

Lamani, mentioning South Africa’s minister of police Fikile Mbalula in a number of tweets, finally received a message from the minister. Mbalula in a tweet requested assistance from complaints officer at SAPS Mduduzi Zee Mubiana.

Mbalula tweeted Saturday afternoon that the “police officers responsible will be held to account”.

“Sorry for what occurred,” he added.

Uber South Africa however deemed the incident “completely unacceptable”.

“Our team has contacted both the rider and driver partner. We’re following up on this and taking the appropriate actions,” the ride-hailing service added in a later tweet.

Past Uber incidents in South Africa

This isn’t the first time Uber has been at the centre of violent confrontations in South Africa.

A number of incidents emerged in 2016 of Uber cutomers reportedly “attacked” and “kidnapped” by Uber drivers across South Africa.

Updating users on the latter incident on Facebook, which involved the arrest of an Uber driver, Uber South Africa published brief guidelines on ensuring safety when using the service.

It’s important to remember the following tips to use Uber safely:

Please remember to always check and confirm all driver and vehicle details before getting into a vehicle, even if the driver claims to be your Uber ride.

Riders should also make use of the technology in the app that allows them to share their driver and vehicle details and their estimated time of arrival with a family or friend.

Law enforcement should always be the first point of contact in the event of an incident.

We’ve reached out to Lamani, SAPS’s complaints officer of the Minister of Police Mduduzi Zee Mubiana and Uber South Africa’s representatives for further comment.

Author | Andy Walker: Editor

Andy Walker: Editor
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone and game reviews over on Gearburn. More
  • Mo Haarhoff

    I don’t think they screen theirs driver well enough. One bumped into my son’s car because he didn’t brake in time. He said the car he was driving was not his own and had no insurance, but Uber considers that good enough? Nothing like the above, but it all adds up to turning a blind eye to what is done by your brand. Unacceptable.

  • Mduduzi Zee Mubiana

    Great story, except that you have not reached out to me “Mduduzi’s Zee Mubiana” for further comment. Secondly, I’m not the SAPS complaints officer. I’m the complaints officer in the office of the Minister of Police.

  • Hi Mduduzi, thanks for the comment.

    I sent you a mail shortly after the incident. Either the address has changed or it bounced for some odd reason. Could you perhaps mail me at andy[dot]walker[at]memeburn[dot]com so I can update the piece with the latest information?

    Additionally, I’ll be sure to correct your title immediately.