Cape Town - A taxi driver who tried to extort money from a Grassy Park teenager is behind bars after quick-thinking cops caught him in a sting operation on Tuesday night.
The 16-year-old girl says the drama started on Saturday morning when she and two of her friends booked a ride with Taxify.
“We were in Long Street and I booked on my phone just before 2 am,” she explains.
“When we came out there was a white Toyota Avanza with a Taxify sign; we asked him if he is our driver and he told us yes. He told us it is R300 to Grassy Park and I said we don’t have enough money and he said we can pay R200. I told him I have R150 on me and can give him the other R50 when we get to my house, and he said yes.”
She says they became suspicious because the driver was not following a map, but instead asked them for directions.
“When we got to the house, I told my friends to stay by the car and I was going inside; then my one friend started shouting because he had grabbed her arm. I hit his hand off her and then he grabbed my bag and sped off. He thought we were not going to pay him, but why would we bring him to where we live if we were going to run away?”
The teen says their IDs, a cellphone and money were in the bag and the next day her friend started receiving messages from the driver on Facebook messenger.
“He told us we must pay him R850 to get our stuff back. He told us to meet him in the CBD and then Lansdowne, but didn’t show up,” she says.
Her mother, 40, says the cab driver sent a phone number of his "boss" and she called it.
“A woman identified herself as Aashiqa from Royal Cabs and said the money (taxi fare) must be sent to her. She also gave me the driver’s number and I made contact with him.”
The driver told them to meet him at Vangate Mall on Tuesday night, and they agreed but by then had informed police.
When they arrived, he was in a green Opel Corsa instead of a black Mercedes-Benz he had told the family to look out for.
The mom says the man drove to Langa and told them to follow him. “He sped off so fast and we followed. The police were also following in an unmarked vehicle. My daughter identified him and the cops arrested him.”
Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut, confirms the arrest and says the driver will appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on theft and extortion charges.
Gareth Taylor from Taxify says they have no record of the trip. “Furthermore, Royal Cabs is a metered taxi company and has no contractual relationship with Taxify and doesn’t have any fleets on the Taxify platform.”
When the Daily Voice called Aashiqa from Royal Cabs, she said: “The driver does not work for Royal Cabs and he should be locked up and taught a lesson for what he has done. He came here (looking) for a job and we took his details.”
Asked why she had told the mother the taxi fare belonged to her when the driver was not employed by her, Aashiqa said: “Listen here, am I in court with you now? This is my private business. It’s got nothing to do with you.”