‘We cooperated with authorities’, Says Bolt After Ex-Driver Is Convicted of Rape

Bolt, the Estonian ride-hailing company, cooperated with law enforcement authorities in the case against 27-year-old Emmanuel Mudau, a driver recently jailed for rape and assault, the company said in a statement. Last week, Mudau was sentenced to two life sentences and two 15-year terms for raping, kidnapping and, assaulting women during a month-long crime spree in Randburg, Johannesburg.

Mudau’s sentencing comes at a time when global ride-hailing apps operating in South Africa are facing scrutiny for lack of safety for both drivers and riders. The scrutiny has led to the emergence of alternative locally-made platforms like Teksi and Rida which claim to offer more stringent driver and rider vetting capabilities and are looking to wrestle market share from the likes of Uber and Bolt.

According to court documents , Mudau’s modus operandi involved taking women who had requested a ride via the Bolt app to secluded locations where he proceeded to sexually assault them. He started using the Bolt app on 9 January 2022 and assaulted his victim on 17 January 2022. On 29 January, Mudau assaulted his second victim who had also used the Bolt app to order a ride. Mudau’s two next victims were assaulted on February 2 and February 24 respectively.

According to Bolt, the company cooperated with authorities to assist in the capture and eventual conviction of Mudau. “Bolt can confirm that Emmanuel Mudau was a registered driver on the app and was immediately blocked from the platform when the allegations first emerged,” said Sandra Suzanne Buyole, Africa  PR Manager at Bolt. To assist with the investigation, Bolt states that it furnished authorities with trip and rider details and insights into the driver's activities around the times the crimes were being committed.

Following Mudau’s crime spree, Bolt stated that it has boosted security in the platform to ensure that similar events do not happen again. These include audio recordings in rides, a driver selfie verification feature, access to emergency response services and a trip monitoring feature to engage both rider and driver when a vehicle remains stationary for too long. After the ruling against Mudau, Godrich Gardee Attorneys stated that it would be launching a civil claim against Bolt for failing to protect passengers. Bolt states that it has yet to receive the civil claim from the firm.

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