Pretoria - Following the kidnapping and burning to death of Taxify driver Siyabonga Ngcobo in Sunnyside last month, the e-hailing service has teamed up with Namola to launch an emergency button to address safety and security.
On Sunday anti-crime activist and Namola chief ambassador Yusuf Abramjee told the Pretoria News that the launch was prompted by the 21-year old’s brutal death.
“We were asked by Taxify to assist with safety measures for their drivers and commuters.
"When drivers press the emergency button, we guarantee a callback within 90 seconds,” Abramjee said.
Fourth-year Tshwane University of Technology student Ngcobo was found burnt inside the boot of a Chevrolet Aveo in Sunnyside. Speculation was that metered-taxi drivers had carried out the killing, although they denied this.
Abramjee boasted that Namola, the emergency mobile application, was the fastest of its kind in the country with more more than 150000 downloads.
It had already contributed to making the country a safer place to live in since its introduction in November last year, he said.
Abramjee further called on police officers to assist in fighting crime not only within the taxi industry, but crime "in its entirety".
The new public safety feature was launched during a Taxify Driver Safety Summit held last Wednesday as a pilot project. Plans are afoot to roll it out to all drivers by the end of this month.
“Rider and driver safety is our first and foremost priority. The safety button will allow Taxify drivers to access rapid deployment of the correct emergency response should they find themselves in danger.
“Namola is the leader in community safety and we have a huge sense of relief in rolling out this partnership,” said Taxify’s Gareth Taylor.
He said that the mobile app would help users receive emergency assistance at the push of a button when they needed it most.
“The app allows users to share their GPS co-ordinates, name and the nature of the emergency with a 24/7 response call centre, which can verify incident details and connect to emergency medical services and the SAPS. The partnership will enable Taxify drivers to access the Namola functionality from within the Taxify app,” he said.
Namola chief executive Peter Matthaei said: “Namola exists to help improve safety and security in South Africa.
"We are a community-focused application that aims to get citizens the fastest help possible in any emergency.
“The partnership with Taxify will help alleviate some of the distressing situations that drivers face. The app is available to all South Africans and has been found to be particularly useful in volatile areas.”
Last year, sporadic incidents of territorial violence between Taxify drivers and metered taxi operators broke out in the province.
A reported 204 attacks were carried out in Hatfield in the city. Joburg followed with 86 and Ekurhuleni four. Drivers lost their cars and their lives.
In response to the high number of attacks on taxi operators, Gauteng Premier David Makhura set up a special task force to bring the e-hailing taxi services and metered taxi war situation under control.
The task force was established last year in September when Makhura also appointed a special cabinet committee tasked with ensuring that the taxi industry was integrated into the broader public transport system.