In late February, Bolt found itself in hot water after a social media post alleged that one of the e-hailing services’ drivers raped and strangled a woman “half to death”.
A petition against Bolt quickly went viral following the allegation. It is titled “Petition Against Bolt South Africa for not Vetting/Verifying its Drivers”. At the time of this article’s writing, 128 074 people have signed the petition.
The driver in question was arrested by Honeydew police officers in Gauteng and is set to appear in the Randburg court today, 8 March, which also happens to be International Woman’s Day, a time where we reflect on just how much work needs to be done in protecting.
However, what was initially thought to be one case of reported assault, has jumped to four allegations against the driver.
According to Thembeki Segala of the police, four cases of sexual assault had actually been opened against the driver. This was discovered after police had “tried to check into what might have happened,” reports EWN. As part of the police investigation, they found that in January other assault allegations had been filed against the driver. Two of these linked the driver to a rape case in January this year.
The public has been urged to come forward to the SAPS with any information to assist the case.
What has Bolt got to say about it all?
As for Bolt, the e-hailing service has issued an open letter to South Africa.
Bolt Regional Manager of the SADC, Gareth Taylor said that:
“We always have, and always will, condemn every instance of gender-based violence, no matter where or when it takes place, as it betrays everyone’s hope of a safe, secure South Africa where everyone can move around freely, no matter their location, or the time of day or night. ”
What is Bolt going to do next?
“So many people have asked, over the last week, what Bolt does to make it safe for people in South Africa to use the service – the service that provides 40,000 drivers with a livelihood, putting food on the table, keeping kids in school, and helping pay for life-saving medication,” Taylor further expressed.
Of safety plans, he continued to say that the company is currently “in discussions with Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT), which works with men as an effective strategy to changing social values and structural factors that perpetuate violence against women, with the intention of rolling out several programmes to drivers in the coming months.”
Of a reminder of what is done to make Bolt as “safe as possible for passengers”, Taylor outlined 11 points including; Bolt’s requirements for a professional driving permit that can only be obtained after a police clearance certificate, background checks, as well as the regular run-down including the driver’s details, distance, car make and model. He indicated that there is an SOS button on the app that alerts private emergency response company Namola to a possible safety threat.
He also noted Bolt Women that offers women the choice of driving with a woman driver, but this is something the petition has challenged, expressing it to be ineffective.
Of the information that Bolt drivers allegedly swap and rent out profiles, he noted that: We’d like to reassure you that Bolt prohibits drivers from authorising any other person to use their Bolt Driver Account in any way whatsoever, including renting profiles to any other person at all. Bolt has blocked and removed drivers who were in violation of our platform rules and will continue to enforce this as Bolt will exercise zero-tolerance for such misconduct. ”
Forensic investigators are reportedly looking into the issue of those using social media to rent out profiles according to the company.