Vi­cious acid at­tack on Uber driver

Man sus­tains life-threat­en­ing burns on face and body

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE nokuthula.zwane@inl.co.za @Zwane_2li2ls

UBER and Tax­ify drivers have an added con­cern about their safety after a vi­cious acid at­tack on one of their col­leagues yes­ter­day left him with life-threat­en­ing burns on his face and parts of his body.

The Uber driver, 33, sus­tained se­ri­ous chem­i­cal burns after he was as­saulted in the early hours of the morn­ing at Water­val Es­tate in North­cliff, Joburg.

ER24 spokesper­son Werner Ver­maak con­firmed that the man had burns to his face and hands and was rushed to He­len Joseph Hospi­tal.

“Ac­cord­ing to the man, he ar­rived at his drop-off lo­ca­tion and was as­saulted by his pas­sen­ger and a liq­uid sub­stance was thrown on to him,” said Ver­maak.

Sa­man­tha Al­len­berg, Uber spokesper­son, said: “What’s been de­scribed today is deeply up­set­ting. We’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent and have reached out to the part­ner’s fam­ily to check on his well-be­ing and of­fer our sup­port.

“We stand ready to help the po­lice with any in­for­ma­tion needed for their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Mean­while, in a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent less than two weeks ago, a fe­male taxi driver was left se­ri­ously in­jured after acid was thrown on her in an al­leged hijacking in Marais­burg, west of Joburg.

“The woman later told paramedics that she had been parked out­side the res­i­dence when she was al­legedly hijacked.

“The as­sailants then threw a chem­i­cal, be­lieved to have been acid, on to her face. A nearby res­i­dent had ap­par­ently no­ticed the woman and of­fered her as­sis­tance,” said ER24 spokesper­son Rus­sel Meir­ing.

On Thurs­day morn­ing a caller on a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion said there was a Tax­ify taxi driver who had suf­fered se­vere burns after be­ing robbed, hav­ing petrol poured over him and set alight in North­cliff.

Mar­ilin Noorem, a Tax­ify spokesper­son, told The Star that the Tax­ify team had not been no­ti­fied of any in­ci­dents of such a na­ture; how­ever, they are will­ing to look into the mat­ter.

“As a com­pany, we sup­port the pe­ti­tion to end the vi­o­lence against Tax­ify and Uber drivers. This kind of vi­o­lence is ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able. We can as­sure the safety of both our drivers and rid­ers is our pri­or­ity,” said Noorem.

“We are work­ing to­gether with po­lice when needed and pro­vid­ing lo­cal sup­port for all drivers. We hope the gov­ern­ment will take ac­tion soon,” she said.

A spokesper­son for the Uber and Tax­ify Move­ment, Teresa Munchick, said: “It’s com­pletely bar­baric and in­hu­man that some kind of psy­chopath could go around and throw acid in some­one’s face.

“First of all I think that a lot of the pub­lic have be­come de­sen­si­tised be­cause there has been so much press around this. If this was hap­pen­ing to any mem­ber of the pub­lic, the whole coun­try would be up in arms and there would be pub­lic out­rage,” said Munchick.

“With Uber, we are termed as in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors who don’t have any rights, like col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing or min­i­mum wages. If we were em­ploy­ees, we would be en­ti­tled to a safe work space,” she said.

The Tax­ify Move­ment would be vis­it­ing one of the drivers today, Munchick said.

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