An Uber driver sustained serious chemical burns when he was assaulted during the early hours of Sunday. There have been conflicting reports on the incident, with police saying he was assaulted while picking up a passenger, and paramedics saying his passenger attacked him after being dropped off.
Police spokesman Captain Kay Makhubela said the man was responding to a request for an Uber ride at Waterval Estate in Northcliff, Johannesburg.
He was travelling in a Toyota Corolla from Sophiatown. “When he arrived at Waterval the man poured acid on his face and threw him out of the car. The man (the assailant) sped off (in his own car),” Makhubela said.
ER24 paramedics spokesperson Werner Vermaak said they found the man on the side of the road on Milner Street in East Town, Johannesburg, at around 2am.
He had sustained severe chemical burns to his face and hands.
“According to the man, he arrived at his drop-off location and was assaulted by his passenger and liquid substance was thrown onto him,” Vermaak said.
He was rushed to hospital.
Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg confirmed they were aware of the incident, saying it was deeply upsetting.
Allenberg said that while there have been conflicting reports about the incident, they are working closely with police.
“We’re investigating the incident and have reached out to the partner’s family to check on his wellbeing and offer our support. We stand ready to help the police with any information needed for their investigation,” she said.
The incident comes days after the Department of Transport met with taxi industry stakeholders over an ongoing feud between the popular Uber app and metered taxi owners.
There have been violent attacks on Uber drivers around the country, with one Uber driver dying recently from burn injuries sustained when his car was set alight in Pretoria on 10 June.
Dozens of cases of malicious damage to property have been opened by Uber and metered taxi drivers in recent months after their vehicles have been stoned, petrol-bombed or set alight.