Cape Town - The passenger of an Uber taxi cab that was hijacked at Cape Town International Airport on Thursday night has said the driver was petrified after three men stopped the vehicle, forced the passenger out and abducted the driver.
- Read more: Uber driver hijacked in Cape Town
Times Media Group's digital editor Andrew Trench had ordered the Uber after arriving at the airport from Johannesburg.
“As we were reversing out of the parking garage, three guys hopped out of another car and came to the driver’s window," Trench told News24 on Friday.
“Two of the guys tackled the driver and tried to take his phone and car keys, they tried to pull him out of the car.
“They yelled at me to get out. I told them to calm down and I took my bag. Once I was out they kind of muscled me out of the way.”
Trench said he didn't see any weapons but can't be sure if they were armed. Two of the men then drove off in the car with the Uber driver inside.
'The whole thing was really bizarre'
Trench went straight to the police at the airport, and was assisted by three officers. He described them as “marginally effective”. He also tweeted Uber about the incident.
“They [Uber] actually responded super quickly. I gave them my account and they traced the driver’s details.”
@Uber_RSA one of your driver's hijacked at Cape Town International now. I was thrown from car and am safe but worried about the guy— andrewtrench (@andrewtrench) April 7, 2016
Trench said he saw the Uber cab drive by a second time, with the three individuals still inside.
“When I first got into the car, the driver actually told me that things were really crazy there at the moment, but he didn’t get a chance to explain,” he continued.
“The whole thing was really bizarre.”
When asked if he felt like his own life was in danger, Trench said: “Well I flashed pretty quickly that this was not a normal hijacking. They went straight for the driver.
“They were actually relaxed about it [once I was out of the car]. I was just worried that they were going to kill the driver.”
Trench said he suspected the hijacking had more to do with a driver’s strike, and efforts to intimidate Uber drivers.
Uber confirmed to News24 on Thursday night that the driver was okay, and said any intimidation of their drivers and riders was "unacceptable".
"We have been in touch with the rider and driver-partner to offer our support and we are relieved to hear both of them are okay," an Uber spokesperson said.
"An investigation into the incident is underway.
"The threats and intimidation against people who want to use the Uber platform are unacceptable. We are deeply committed to the safety of riders and drivers and we take any incident where safety is compromised very seriously."
Details of how the driver came to safety were not made available.
@Uber_RSA tells me driver is safe in horrible Cape Town incident. So relieved he is okay. Uber have been excellent in responding— andrewtrench (@andrewtrench) April 7, 2016
Last month, 60-year-old Uber taxi driver, Webb-Law Chehore, was shot dead near the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch, Cape Town.
He had been waiting for a client outside an apartment block around 05:00 when he was shot. The motive remains unclear.
Chehore's son, Nani, took to social media shortly after the murder, offering a reward for information that would lead to arrests in a campaign titled #JusticeForWebbLaw.