Taxify drivers are under scrutiny once again. Siyambulela Ngogela was on a Taxify trip to meet her boyfriend for dinner this past weekend when, after making suggestive comments to her throughout the trip, her unnamed Taxify driver tried to coerce her into looking at his exposed penis. An uproar followed on Twitter when Siyambulela posted this video of the incident:

To which Taxify responded:

Siyambulela told Marie Claire that the driver pursued conversation with her the minute she entered the car, asking where she was going and who she was meeting. ‘Then he started making remarks about my lips, how they look nice, and made comments about how he can see himself [ejaculating] inside of me, which is when he asked me if I want to see his [manhood]. At this point I saw that he was actually serious,’ says Siyambulela.

In a panic, she started texting her boyfriend who she was waiting for, telling him to hurry up. She then texted her best friend to alert her about the driver. The best friend advised her to take a video, while keeping calm so as to not elicit a violent reaction from the driver. Her laughter in the video is an attempt at diffusing the situation. ‘At that point when I was recording him I was terrified as well, but remained calm… About a minute later I saw [my boyfriend] so I just got out the car,’ she adds.

The matter has been reported to Taxify, who explained their procedure to Siyambulela, saying they will block the driver from the app service, summon him to their offices (for disciplinary action we presume), and that they will contact her with regards to a way forward – which hasn’t happened yet. And as a result, Siyambulela has told us that she’s opening a case at the police station today, as she fears for her life since her driver knows where she lives, having picked her up from her home.

Repeat offenders

In June last year, Yonela Makoba, a 23-year-old Cape Town woman, was allegedly abducted by her Taxify driver, who took her from Rondebosch to Epping Industria, ignoring her request to head home to Kenilworth. After a few verbal exchanges, the driver stopped on the side of the road, creating an opportunity for her to escape to Pinelands. At the time, she told Times Live that ‘Taxify refuses to take responsibility’.

And that wasn’t the last case against the cab-hailing service – there are regular Tweets about violent Taxify drivers, which suggest that the app’s reporting system is not working adequately:

What about women’s safety?

As women in a country with a high rate of gender-based violence, we live in constant fear of becoming victims. Making use of public transport and cab-hailing apps is an extreme sport we play daily. You can neither walk home nor ask a stranger for a lift after an evening out. And if you’re driving your own car, you’re also at risk of being hijacked – no option guarantees safety. This is why service providers such as Uber and Taxify really need to have the safety of their passengers in mind when hiring new drivers by doing extensive background checks. It’s not enough that a driver has a valid driver’s licence.

Uber reportedly has a stringent screening process in place compared to how Taxify drivers are screened. That said, the tweet below clarifies what the root of the Taxify problem is:

The Taxify cab service has a detailed driver policy that is easily accessible on their site, which addresses fares, driver-customer relationships and liability, among other legal matters. We also reached out to Taxify for comment, and will provide a follow-up report should we hear back from them.