A Facebook post recounting a traumatic Uber experience, in which a couple were assaulted, driven to Tembisa, robbed and held against their will on Saturday evening after they climbed into a car they thought was an Uber vehicle, is circulating on social media.
By Monday afternoon, the post, by AKshar Sewkuran, was shared more than 4 000 times after it was posted on Sunday evening.
Sewkuran describes how the couple requested an Uber and said the car had all the telltale signs of an Uber, such as the Uber app on the phone on the dashboard. However, shortly after they departed from a nightclub in Sunninghill, Sewkuran alleged that two men who were hiding in the boot pushed the backseats forward, climbed into the front of the vehicle, stabbed his friend numerous times and bundled both victims into the boot while the car was moving.
This is the third alleged incident of its kind in the Fourways area in the past two months.
“The kidnappers then took them to Tembisa, where they forced them to draw money after, which they blindfolded and cable tied both their hands. They were then held in a house in Tembisa township, where they were kept through the night and subjected my friend to random beatings through the early hours of the morning. My friend managed, after numerous hours, to alert a neighbor who alerted the community and rushed in to save them and protected them both before the police arrived,” wrote Sewkuran.
He went on to say that during the latter part of the morning, the mother of the girlfriend received a call from a number that came up as ‘Drivers Name – Uber’ instead of the generic uber call centre number. He believed this was the alleged kidnapper’s personal phone.
Uber’s Samantha Allenberg said the company was aware of the incident and had been in contact with the victims, their families and law enforcement.
“This is a despicable crime, and our first thoughts are with the victims and their families. We are in contact with the families and have offered our full support. We are assisting law enforcement in their investigation, and we will continue to provide them with information to support their efforts to bring whoever is responsible to justice,” said Allenberg.
She could not comment on whether or not the vehicle used in the incident was an Uber vehicle, saying that this was an open investigation.
She did, however, strongly encourage Uber riders to double-check the vehicle licence plate, vehicle type, driver name and photo against those shown to them in the application before getting into the car.
Sewkuran alleged that two men who were hiding in the boot pushed the backseats forward, climbed into the front of the vehicle, stabbed his friend numerous times and bundled both victims into the boot while the car was moving.
This is the third alleged incident of its kind in the Fourways area in the past two months. In July, Fourways Review reported that a woman climbed into a vehicle that she believed was an Uber vehicle outside Montecasino. It was reported that two men were lying down in the back of the vehicle, and the woman was allegedly then tied up, locked in the boot, taken to an ATM and then assaulted and forced to withdraw money. She was taken to a veld in Tembisa and was allegedly raped and left for dead by the three men.
Then, on August 7, it was further reported that a woman got into a vehicle thinking it was an Uber vehicle outside Fourways Life Hospital, and she was strangled by two men hiding in the back seats. She was able to flee from the moving vehicle.
Allenberg commented that these were “despicable crimes” and said their thoughts were with the victims and their families. “We have been in regular contact with the families, and we will continue to provide them with whatever support we can. We have been working with local law enforcement to give them information to support their efforts to bring whoever is responsible for this crime to justice.”
She further stated they were committed to the safety of everyone who uses Uber and said they were constantly developing new technologies to ensure safety before, during, and after every ride.
“This includes giving riders information about their driver; tracking all trips using GPS from beginning to end; enabling riders to share their ETA or route; and incorporating feedback from riders and drivers. These product features are available in every city we operate in around the world. All of this happens on top of a driver screening process,” she said.
She further offered the following safety tips for Uber riders to ensure their personal safety:
- Only take trips with drivers you request through the app – there are no street hails with Uber.
- Before the ride begins, double-check the licence plate, driver name and photo shown to you in the application. We encourage riders to double-check all these details and make sure they match the driver and car. As well, riders are also able to see a driver’s rating to determine if they wish to proceed with a journey.
- During the trip, sdhare trip details with friends and family. Riders can share their trip details, including estimated time of arrival and the specific route, with friends and family so they can follow the trip and know when they’ve arrived safely.
- After the ride ends, provide feedback. Riders rate their driver and vice-versa, and can provide feedback to Uber. Our safety team reviews this information and investigates any issues. Our customer support staff are ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Many people have commented on this weekend’s incident: