Cape Town - Police have warned e-hailing taxi services to avoid crime-infested Nyanga after a spate of hijackings targeting Uber and Bolt drivers.
The also warned other motorists to be vigilant, especially drivers of delivery vehicles.
Nyanga police spokesperson Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi said they had seen an increase in cases reported at the police station.
“In an effort to prevent the hijackings directed at Uber and Bolt (Taxify) drivers, the SAPS Nyanga management would like to urge drivers to always be vigilant and cautious when called to transport clients from or into the Nyanga policing precinct,” she said.
Police statistics released last year recorded 2182 carjacking incidents in the Western Cape, Nyanga having the highest number at 276. Sitshitsi said these numbers had since escalated.
South African manager for Bolt, Gareth Taylor, said they were aware of the increase in hijacking and robbery incidents committed against ride-hailing drivers in Nyanga.
“Bolt condemns violence of any form directed towards our ride-hailing driver partners. We believe every South African has the right to earn a living and move around without risk of harm, intimidation, coercion or fear of death or injury,” Taylor said.
He said they engaged with their driver partners through a variety of channels, electronic and face to face, and were continuously developing tools to address safety concerns of drivers.
Samantha Allenberg, spokesperson for Uber, said they couldn’t prevent their drivers from operating in Nyanga, as they were independent contractors.
“Crime is an unfortunate reality for all South African road users, and ultimately we need to rely on law enforcement to ensure they keep the community safe. We remain committed to the safety of both riders and driver partners and have a number of safety features available to those who use the Uber app to accept or request rides, such as injury protection, access to an in-app emergency assistance button and 24/7 in-app support,” she said.
Nyanga Community Policing Forum chairperson Martin Makhasi said they were concerned about the hijackings, as the e-hailing services were rendering an essential service to the community, especially after hours when public transport was not operating.
“Whoever is behind these carjacking incidents must understand that we’ll no longer be held to ransom, either by criminal gangsters or business operators in the public sector transport. We’re living in a free market space where everyone has the right to participate in the economy.”
Makhasi said they feared that should the e-hailing operators suspend their services, it would have a devastating effect on the community’s transport convenience, and called on drivers to not accept requests in places where they felt unsafe, but to rather suggest alternative safe pick-up points to riders.
* Sitshitsi said some arrests of suspects were made and the areas were monitored, and appealed to community members with information about the suspects to call 0213803304/3374 or 0824692470. They can also call Crime Stop at 086001011 or SMS Crime Line at 32211.