Festive season: E-hailing services to avoid parts of Gauteng as drivers are murdered, hijacked and robbed weekly

Published Dec 17, 2022


Johannesburg - Partygoers out on a drinking spree may find themselves stranded without a ride home this festive season.

E-hailing drivers across Gauteng said they will be rejecting rides from certain areas. They say they are being killed, robbed and hijacked on a weekly basis. Spokesperson for the E-hailing Partners Council, which represents some 3 000 e-hailing drivers across the province, Nkosinathi Zwane said the festive season is usually the worst for the industry and they lose drivers every weekend.

“We are always asking drivers to avoid areas like the Joburg CBD, Yeoville, Alexandra, Soweto and Tsakane. This is where we have lost many drivers. Only drivers who know these places and stay there should operate there because they have a better idea of where it’s safe and where it’s not,” he said.

So far this year, 15 e-hailing drivers have been hijacked, robbed and/or murdered in Gauteng alone. Ekurhuleni seems to be the hotspot for e-hailing killings.

While the council has around 3 000 members on its WhatsApp groups, Zwane expressed concern that some drivers, who are new, may still fall victim to criminals. He has also accused Bolt and Uber of not doing enough to safeguard drivers.

“Bolt and Uber don't care and there's nothing they are doing except to tell you that the app has an alert button if you are not feeling safe. We don't have a figure but we are losing drivers week after week and most of the time it's new drivers who are not part of our groups,” he said.

But the head of communications for Uber South Africa, Mpho Sebelebele said the safety of drivers and riders is a top priority and these incidents are very concerning. “We can confirm we are aware of one isolated incident in the Germiston area. The driver pushed the in-app emergency button and armed response was immediately dispatched to his location. Thankfully he was unharmed as the emergency response arrived in minutes. Our safety team continues to monitor the situation on the ground,” she said.

Sebelebele added that Uber’s Law Enforcement Relations Team is also on call to work with police at any time to respond to urgent incidents.

“We encourage drivers and riders to report any incidents on the app and the police to ensure these issues can be resolved. Uber remains open to working with the local authorities to co-create solutions that can improve the safety of users on our platform,” she said.

Country Manager for Bolt SA, Takura Malaba, said they are not aware of a recent shooting as well as a rise in robberies and hijackings in the Primrose area but that they unequivocally condemn any violence or crime of any form directed towards ride-hailing drivers.

“We believe that every person has the right to work without risk of harm, intimidation or coercion, or fear of death or injury. Bolt shares information with law enforcement from our security team and other sources about dangerous hotspots with drivers. Drivers can decline a trip if they are concerned about their safety in the pick-up location,” he said.

Malaba added that in and around Johannesburg, drivers have been made aware that certain areas are high-risk. These include, JHB Central, Yeoville/Bellevue/Berea, Eldorado Park, Rosettenville, Alexandra and neighbouring areas, Pretoria Central, Pretoria East, Tembisa and neighbouring areas, Kempton Park, Katlehong and Vosloorus and Germiston.

Malaba said where incidents are reported to Bolt through the app or by email and to the SAPS, Bolt unreservedly supports any investigation with all information it can gather from its digital platform.

“The platform records details about all parties on a ride (passengers and drivers), the nature of any journey, and feedback from both parties about their experience. We continue to monitor incidents across South Africa, and to appropriately introduce interventions to improve safety, and to escalate safety issues to both SAPS and local law enforcement,” he said.

Bolt said drivers have been on the receiving end of violence or intimidation, and it proactively escalates these issues to the SAPS, law enforcement and local authorities in order to ensure swift action by our law enforcement agencies.

“We continue to offer a way that more than 40 000 drivers can earn an income, and millions of people in South Africa can benefit from affordable door-to-door transport.

“We are continuously developing safety features and tools that have a real impact on addressing the safety concerns of drivers and passengers,” Malaba said.