Uber driver still haunted by acid attack

22 August 2017 - 16:35 By Bafana Nzimande

Uber driver Kgomotso Tiro says he is struggling with flashbacks of his attacker’s laughter as the acid was eating his skin.

Tiro wants nothing to do with money paid by Uber while he was in hospital‚ without explanation from the company‚ denouncing it as “too little”.

He was addressing the media in Johannesburg on Tuesday‚ four days after being discharged from hospital.

The 34-year-old had acid poured on his face while transporting a client who had requested an Uber cash trip service on August 6.

The client asked to be transported from Sophiatown to Northcliff.

The attack left him with third-degree burns on his hands plus caused severe damage on his face and neck.

Flanked by family and members of the Uber Drivers Movement‚ Tiro said Uber made a financial contribution of R39‚000 into his brother’s bank account after he was hospitalised but accused the company of showing little regard about his wellbeing.

“Nobody from Uber came to see me when I was in hospital. I learnt from my girlfriend that Uber deposited a certain amount of money into my brother’s account without explaining what is it for. I told my family not to touch that money because we don’t know why it was put into our account. We will return it to Uber because we don’t know anything about it and it’s not a lot of money‚” said Tiro.

With both his hands wrapped with thick bandages‚ the 34-year-old related how he tried to block the acid from reaching his eyes. He impressively pushed back the tears when telling the story‚ but periodically took a moment to drink water through straw.

“It will take me a long time to get over this experience. Right now I can’t bath myself. I can’t drive. I am relying on my girlfriend to assist me with everything. It’s painful‚” he said.

Tiro added to calls made by the Uber Drivers Movement demanding increased safety measures for drivers.

“Uber must install a rider identification system to solve the problems created by the cash trip system. A lot of these crimes committed against drivers are linked to the cash trip requests‚” said Uber Drivers Movement spokesperson Zweli Ngwenya.

Uber said it had offered support to Tiro but declined to reveal details‚ saying the information was confidential.

Uber SA spokesperson Samantha Allenberg said she tried to visit Tiro in hospital but was not granted permission.

“We are disheartened to hear that he (Tiro) feels we have not provided any support. We will make contact again today to ensure he knows we are there to support him during this difficult time‚” said Allenberg in a statement.

In early August‚ Uber SA introduced the cash indicator feature meant to increase driver safety. The cash indicator feature allows operators to choose if they want to service clients on cash trip request or not.