Uber driver suffers burns when car is set alight‚ now fighting for his life in hospital

13 June 2017 - 10:57 By TimesLIVE
Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg said the company did not allow anyone under 18 to have an account.
Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg said the company did not allow anyone under 18 to have an account.

Uber South Africa says it is "devastated" to confirm the brutal attack of a driver-partner in Pretoria this past weekend.

With riders advising the company of more attacks on drivers‚ Uber called on the police and government to do its part as it could not fight the criminality on its own.

"We want to make it clear – this sort of violence is completely unacceptable‚ unlawful and needs to stop‚" the company said in a statement.

Initial investigations by Uber show the driver-partner was in Pretoria when he was attacked by a small group.

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‚ Uber said.

"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."

Passengers also advised Uber of other attacks on its social media platforms.

Dipolelo Lelo-Dipsy Mogale said: "On Saturday night we had an attack too‚ a meter taxi driver threw a brick through the window on the driver's side. What's being done about this?"

Hendre Harris posted: "Action speaks louder than words! You know exactly who is attacking all the Uber vehicles...especially around the Gautrain stations..yet everyone turns a blind eye! My Uber partner was also attacked this weekend‚ breaking 2 of his windows at Bosman street close to Gautrain. Several Uber cars were assaulted on Friday - words mean nothing! Do something about it! The police know just as well!! They have all the case numbers and all the Uber partners have the same story!!"

Christi du Plooy proposed this possible solution: "Why doesn't Uber make it a mandatory requirement to install dash cams in vehicles to make it easier to identify criminals??? This will save a lot of time in SAPS investigations and save money in insurance claims for uber vehicle owners and drivers."

Other commuters however tackled the police for not doing more to protect both drivers and riders.

Tiego Thamaga shared: "What is the police doing about these attacks? Do they ever make arrests? I'm not going back to the stinking‚ unroadworthy‚ highly expensive meter taxis" while S'the Lily Living said "I don't think the police are working with you on this as they are doing nothing about these cab drivers who attack Uber drivers".

On June 6‚ about 250 Uber drivers operating around East Gate mall in Johannesburg staged a protest over alleged ongoing intimidation from meter taxi drivers. They delivered a memorandum to management at the shopping centre.

Uber drivers have previously accused metered taxi drivers of damaging their cars and assaulting them while they operate in the area.

Gauteng meter taxi drivers recently distanced themselves from a circulating message that threatened violence against Uber drivers. “We are aware of a strike by Uber drivers to the management of the mall; it has nothing to do with us. As far as I am concerned‚ I have no idea what the memorandum is about‚” Abner Mashikinya‚ a Meter Taxi Association spokesperson‚ told TimesLIVE.

Saying there is no excuse for the violence against their Pretoria driver‚ who was not named‚ Uber lashed out at its rivals.

"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."

Commenting on the ongoing attacks‚ Uber said it had already activated safety features like GPS tracking of every trip a reality. Driver-partners also 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). Our Incident Response Team (IRT) is available 24 hours a day‚ 7 days a week to respond immediately to any reported incidents or accidents globally.

"In addition to our standard safety features‚ we have hired additional security response teams in areas where our driver-partners and riders have reported intimidation.

"While we are doing all we can to assist in preventing incidents and provide assistance to driver-partners and riders‚ we cannot do this alone – we need 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."