Family and friends of a cab operator are reeling at the news that he was stabbed to death while on the job last week in Brooklyn.
Gift Gandari, was a cab driver who lived in Phoenix with his wife and two children.
Tracey Gandari, Gift’s wife, said she is still in shock by the news of her husband’s death.
“I last spoke to him at 7.10pm and he said that he was on his way home. Around 10pm, I received a call from his friend’s wife asking me where my husband is because she had seen on WhatsApp groups that a man fitting his description had been attacked in Brooklyn.
My husband’s friend fetched me and took me to the crime scene. I still can’t believe he is gone. I haven’t been able to even go to work because I am still in shock,” she said.
A friend of the Gandari family, Stephen Hughes, said he knew the family very well.
“Gift was a gentleman and he took pride in his work. He was the kind of father we all wish that we had. He worked tirelessly to ensure that his family were supported and losing a truly good man leaves the world a lot colder. Our family will never forget him,” said Mr Hughes.
Mr Hughes said a BackaBuddy fund had been started in Mr Gandari’s name for the family. People can visit www.backabuddy.co.za/gift-gandari to donate to the fund.
Mr Gandari leaves behind his wife, who works as a cashier at a pharmacy, and two young boys, 6 and 3 years old.
There have been several attacks on e-hailing drivers in recent weeks.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City of Cape Town was concerned about the safety of commuters and public transport operators.
He said there had been significant problems on the trains, buses, minibus taxes and sedan taxis, including ride-hailing and a lot of people had raised concerns.
“The City is doing everything it can to assist and partner with all entities,” said Mr Smith.
Three ride-hailing employees have been attacked in the past three weeks – two of them killed.
According to provincial SAPS spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel André Traut, Maitland police are investigating Mr Gandari’s death in Van Riebeeck Street, Brooklyn, last week.
“He was stabbed to death inside his vehicle during an apparent argument with two male suspects who are yet to be arrested,” he said.
Labour attorney, Michael Baigram said he had heard of the tragic incident and said that unfortunately, whatever e-hailing service the victim was with, they were not legally liable. He said that the service was not the employer but that the vehicle owner was the employer.
“The ride-hailing service merely provides a platform for people to access a facility. The courts have had a careful look at the situation and fully endorse the fact that they are merely service providers. This similar situation can be seen with regard to Airbnb where a domestic worker working in a household who uses Airbnb to rent out rooms cannot be said to be working for Airbnb but she in fact is working for the owner of the household who derives the income that they get from Airbnb,” he said.
Family friend, Liz Dobson, said Mr Gandari was working as a taxi driver for Bolt and the last time she used his services was some time last year.
A day after the Mr Gandari’s murder, Bolt released a statement saying that they were saddened to hear that one of the drivers, using their platform, had died. They said they would fully co-operate with SAPS and asked anyone who had any information to contact the police.
On Thursday March 7, a Bolt driver was attacked by a passenger that he was dropping off in Table View.
The driver had picked up the passenger in Athlone that evening and when they arrived in Table View, he asked the driver if he’d ever been hijacked or robbed and if he was wearing his safety belt.
According to Table View SAPS spokesperson, Captain Adriana Chandler, the passenger grabbed the driver, choked him with the seatbelt and said he had a gun.
During the struggle, the driver drove the car into a street light and police, who were doing patrols, arrested the 31-year-old suspect.
On Sunday March 3, another Bolt driver, Robin Mark Dreyden, 32, was found in his car in Langa. He had been stabbed repeatedly.
Mr Dreyden had recently started the job to make extra cash.
He had responded to a trip request in Durbanville on Saturday March 2 and was found by another motorist the next day
He was taken to hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Bolt’s country manager Gareth Taylor said they condemned all violence directed towards ride-hailing drivers and passengers.
“Bolt is constantly looking for ways to improve driver and rider safety and currently includes an in-app integrated SOS emergency button that shares the driver’s details and location with Namola’s 24/7 call centre, when activated.
“Using this feature, drivers can immediately call for the rapid deployment of private security and emergency services.
“This is in addition to the initial capability of connecting with police, ambulance, and fire services,” he said.
The Namola app uses a phone’s GPS functionality to pinpoint the user’s location for a swift response from emergency services.