Uber concerned about attacks on drivers but says it cannot solve crime

23 August 2017 - 17:26 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
An Uber car is seen parked with the driver's lunch left on the dashboard. File Photo
An Uber car is seen parked with the driver's lunch left on the dashboard. File Photo
Image: LUCY NICHOLSON

Uber is concerned about the recent spate of attacks on its drivers but says it cannot solve crime in South Africa.

At a media briefing on Wednesday in Rosebank‚ Johannesburg‚ Alon Lits‚ General Manager for Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa‚ said that they cannot comment on issues of criminality but can only speak of their safety measures.

"I wish I could sit here and say that we're going to solve crime in South Africa.”

Lits added that one incident was one too many but they were not law enforcement.

This is after Uber driver Khomotso Tiro aired his frustrations on television and blamed Uber’s management for an attack on him by a passenger who hurled acid at him.

According to Lits‚ the company has been in touch with Tiro and reached out to him.

Though the briefing was meant to answer questions around the cash payment method that its driver-partners blame for some of the attacks on drivers‚ the company failed to explain what exactly they were doing to address issues of safety.

Disputing Tiro’s claim that the company was not supportive‚ Lits said: “[After reaching out through phone calls to his family they paid a] hospital visit‚ [where] family and hospital advised we were unable to see the driver-partner‚ but we spoke with his girlfriend and second brother‚”

Uber driver-partners have claimed that they don’t feel safe and that the company is doing nothing to ensure their protection.

At a briefing on Tuesday‚ Tiro said drivers had informed Uber that the cash system exposes them to criminal elements. The cellphone-based app formerly operated exclusively by means of electronic payments.

The 34-year-old was attacked on August 6 in Northcliff‚ Johannesburg‚ while transporting a client who had requested Uber cash trip services.

“I am angry at Uber and the way it continues to conduct its business‚

“Many drivers have complained about the cash trip system before I was attacked but Uber has done nothing to improve the safety of drivers. I nearly lost my life. They never even came to see me in hospital‚” Tiro said.

Tiro spent 12 days in hospital. He relied on the support of family‚ friends and his previous employer‚ Trans Union.

Uber South Africa spokesperson Samantha Allenberg‚ said that they are disheartened that Khomotso feels there has been little support provided for him.

Two months ago a victim of car arson‚ Uber driver Patrick Funeka‚ was attacked by a group of men in Malvern East‚ Germiston‚ with his car burned to ashes.

In the same month‚ another driver was attacked in Pretoria and later died due to the attack.

On Monday night an Uber driver was reportedly killed at the Etwatwa off-ramp in Benoni. Etwatwa police said they were aware of the case but the investigation was being handled by the Daveyton police.

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