Christopher Parker was visibly angry as he recalled the incident which took place at about 5pm on Friday.
Parker and his fiancée, whose name is known to the Cape Times, but is being withheld to protect her privacy, had hired an Uber cab and asked the driver to stop at a shop on Rosmead Avenue, Claremont.
He said the trip seemed to be going smoothly until his fiancée left the vehicle to go the shop.
“He interrogated me and asked if my fiancée is still a Muslim,” said Parker.
Parker told the driver: “It is none of your business, it is personal information. He then told me it is not on for me to be in a relationship with her. I take it that because he saw I had a crucifix tattoo on my arm that he gathered I was Christian and my fiancée who booked the service has a Muslim name.”
Parker said the altercation continued and he went on to explain to the driver that his partner’s mother was a Christian woman who married a Muslim man.
He said: “My grandfather is also a Muslim. My fiancée grew up with parents from different religions and she never really embraced Islam, but why should that even matter. He was completely inappropriate. She has faced this kind of discrimination in many areas of her life, including her workplace and it is not right. It is nobody’s business. And with all the racial hatred in the country, he should be taken to task.”
Parker said he had a “bad feeling” about the driver on entering the vehicle. After the situation escalated and his fiancée returned, the Uber driver put them out of the car, leaving them stranded on Rosmead Avenue.
He said: “Luckily I have a friend who lives close by imagine if we were somewhere else. What about our safety? It is complete nonsense.”
The couple took their experience to social media and received 119 shares and 64 comments. Many people responded, describing their frustration with the incident.
Following their posts on Twitter and Facebook, Uber made contact, saying they would investigate the matter.
Parker said he does not hold Uber accountable.
“I do not blame them because they cannot monitor every driver every time. But I expect them to take action because something must be done. I would not like this to happen to anyone else. It is rubbish,” he said.
Parker said his desired outcome would be a public apology.
He said if Uber did not do anything, he was considering lodging a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission.
Parker was also in possession of a live recording which detailed the incident.
In response, Uber confirmed they had made contact with the passengers and the driver-partner.
“We are deeply committed to the safety of all who use the Uber app. Immediately upon hearing of this, Uber took the necessary steps to investigate the allegation and is in contact with both the riders and driver-partner."
"And to provide an update, Uber is in contact with the riders to offer our support and as soon as we were made aware of this [incident] , we removed the driver’s access from the app."
Uber stressed that it not tolerate any form of discrimination and adhered to strict community guidelines.
These guidelines apply to both riders and driver-partners and include the following instances:
- Fraud: Fraudulent activity on the Uber system
- Safety: Putting the safety of anyone (drivers, riders, or third parties) at risk
- Discrimination: Unjust treatment of anyone based on: race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, age or any other characteristic protected under law