A local woman has claimed that the driver of an online taxi service allegedly “tried to abduct” her after an altercation over money this week.
Pharmacist assistant Abonakalisiwe Mvelase (32) said she was left confused and afraid after the driver of the taxi she requested from Bolt allegedly tried to kidnap her following a verbal argument over change.
Mvelase’s nightmare started when the driver of the taxi she ordered to take her from Burger Street to her home in Signal Hill did not have change when she paid with a R200 note.
Mvelase said she had requested the taxi with a friend after attending a party at the Imperial Hotel.
She told The Witness on Wednesday that after dropping off her friend in Loop Street, the taxi proceeded to take her to Signal Hill.
“When we arrived outside my house, I gave him a R200 note and he said he didn’t have change.”
Mvelase, who only had a R50 note in her purse, said she told the driver she would go inside her house to get change and then come back to pay.
“I told him I did not have change because I had to pay R60 for the trip. I told him I had an extra R50 and asked if he could wait outside my house while I fetch R10 from my house, but he wouldn’t let me.
“He told me that customers have a habit of conning drivers while trying to escape payments. He said I should just give him the money he needed but I didn’t have any. I told him that as a driver he should always have change,” she said.
An increasingly concerned Mvelase said the driver became frustrated and “was swearing at me, demanding that I pay for the trip”.
“He grabbed me tightly by the arm and told me I was not going anywhere. He locked the doors and wouldn’t let me out of the taxi and started driving off with me. Luckily, he only locked the front doors and I managed to get out of the taxi while it was moving.”
Mvelase said the man drove off with her valuables, including her cell phone, purse with bank cards and the shoes she had been wearing.
“When he drove off, I ran, and he just drove away. I then went to the police station to report the incident, but the police said they could not help me because I didn’t have the vehicle’s registration number,” she said.
However, on Wednesday, Mvelase managed to open a case at the Town Hill police station.
“I don’t know why he did what he did. I was left shaken after the incident and it just proves that women are not safe anywhere.”
Mvelase said she had spoken to the company about the alleged incident but was told that she would need to open a case with the police.
“Bolt refuse to take responsibility‚” she said.
In a message which Mvelase said was sent to her by Bolt on Wednesday, the company acknowledged that the driver is in possession of her items.
“The driver has been contacted and is not disputing the fact that he is in possession of your items. Communication will further be provided on the app as the support team has already taken steps in resolving the query,” read the message.
Bolt spokesperson Gareth Taylor said the company was aware of the incident and was investigating.
Taylor said: “According to the rider, after completing the trip, the driver did not have sufficient change for the cash payment made. The rider left her belongings in the vehicle to collect change in her home, but the driver drove off with her possessions before she could return with payment.”
However, Bolt said the “rider” (Mvelase) had said there was no attempted kidnapping, which Mvelase denies.
“It is Bolt policy to immediately suspend from the platform any driver who is under any form of police investigation, and to remove them completely should they be convicted of any crime.
“Bolt will engage with the SAPS wherever possible to assist in their investigation,” Taylor added.