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Not so merry Christmas for e-hailing drivers based in Cape Town

A Bolt driver was been gunned down in Ilitha Park, Khayelitsha in October. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

A Bolt driver was been gunned down in Ilitha Park, Khayelitsha in October. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 24, 2021

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Cape Town - Despite being associated with recognised international business organisations, Cape Town-based e-hailing drivers who are more often than not victims of targeted attacks in local communities say they have been left out in the cold by their companies.

The drivers – most of whom preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation – instead of being delighted about being in demand during the festive season, said increasing attacks on them and threats had resulted in them feeling anxious and frightened.

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Bolt driver Frans Theeha said: “I have no choice but to work, but at the same time, I’m scared of what might happen to me if I make just one bad decision and accept the wrong trip.

“We don’t feel safe now more than ever, but we have to keep going even when you hear that a colleague or friend was robbed, stabbed or murdered. What’s worse is that Bolt doesn’t do anything. There is no support or assistance they offer drivers.”

Bolt SADC regional manager Gareth Taylor said Bolt was aware of several incidents where e-hailing drivers completing trips in certain parts of Cape Town have been illegally intimidated from operating.

He said: “Crimes against e-hailing drivers continue to be a national issue of great concern, and the safety of passengers and drivers that use the Bolt platform is of utmost importance to us.

“We are working closely with affected drivers on our platform as well as law enforcement authorities to ensure the appropriate information is provided to law enforcement for further investigation and police action.”

Uber South Africa head of communications, Mpho Sebelebele, said: “It’s important to note that drivers and delivery people are independent contractors, not employees. The vast majority of drivers want to work independently and choose this work because they value the flexibility.

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“The safety of riders and drivers is a top priority, and we have several safety features available such as an In-App emergency button linked to private security and 24/7 in-app support.

“Uber remains open to working with the local authorities to path solutions that can improve the safety of drivers and riders,” Sebelebele said.

Cape Argus

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