A photo and video circulating among Uber drivers over the weekend of a taxi driver who was attacked near Loftus on Saturday night at the Springbok rugby march in Pretoria has been confirmed as authentic by popular ride-sharing app firm Uber.
Samantha Allenberg, Comms for Uber Africa, said: “Uber is devastated to confirm the brutal attack of a driver-partner this past weekend and they want to make it clear – this sort of violence is completely unacceptable, unlawful and needs to stop.”
They said initial investigations had found that “this past weekend one of our driver-partners was in Pretoria when he was attacked by a small group of unknown individuals”.
“His car was set alight while he was in the vehicle, leading to him sustaining serious injuries. He is currently in hospital in a critical condition.”
There have been numerous reports of Uber drivers being attacked by metered taxi drivers. However, it is unknown if this was the reason behind this latest attack.
“This incident is deeply upsetting to all of us at Uber. This driver-partner is a part of our community. We are in contact with his family and we have visited him at the hospital – our thoughts continue to be with him while we do all we can to help with the ongoing investigation to bring his attackers to justice. We are working with law enforcement officials to fully support their investigation and we have a team of former law enforcement professionals who are ready to work with and assist the police at anytime during their investigation.
“There is no excuse for the violent acts described. We know that these actions do not represent the entire industry. However, this violence and intimidation against those who choose to use the Uber app must stop.
“Everyone has a right to be safe, whether they’re on a train, in a cab, walking on a sidewalk or in a driver-partner’s vehicle. And while no means of transportation can be 100% incident or accident-free, technology can improve safety by creating accountability and transparency where previously there was none.
“We understand that there is concern about the impact of Uber and its driver-partners on other operators’ businesses, but as we have said, we are not interested in taking away anyone’s business. Our aim is to get people to give up their own personal cars and in a world like that, there is plenty of opportunity for everyone. We have also made it known that we welcome anyone who wants to use the Uber app.
“This intimidation, violence and criminal action only does a disservice to every operator in the industry. It is because of behaviour like this that so many people are turning towards using Uber (and other apps) for a safer, more reliable way to move around.”
Uber said that they were continuing with the implementation of safety features such as GPS tracking of every trip.
“Driver-partners have access to a 24/7 local emergency line to use in the event they feel unsafe. We have also recently partnered with multiple security response services that are able to dispatch security and medical services in emergency situations in a reduced time, in an effort to improve the safety of driver-partners who use the Uber app.
“We have also made it possible for riders to share their ETA (estimated time of arrival) with their loved ones. Riders are able to check driver-partner details such as their name and picture as well as vehicle details (type, model, colour, registration).
They said they had hired “additional security response teams in areas where our driver-partners and riders have reported intimidation”.
Allenberg called for more support from the authorities and policy makers to help “prevent and condemn these terrible crimes”.
“We are now appealing for additional support from the government and SAPS to assist in both the prevention of these crimes, as well as to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”