BREAKING: South Africa bans Uber despite ‘panic buttons’ after rape cases

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JOHANNESBURG — The Department of Transport and The Ministry of Women of South Africa have jointly issuea statement to ban Uber in the country after series of rape reports.

The transport innovation which was suppose to provide safe travels, Uber has not been having an easy ride lately in South Africa.

After a string of alleged attacks on passengers triggered safety concerns, the popular app-based car service is rolled out an “SOS” button in some vehicles but the government says “this would not fight crime”.

Public concerns over the service’s safety have been gathering steam since July, after a woman ordered an Uber in Johannesburg, and, after being picked up, was allegedly strangled, thrown in the trunk, robbed and sexually assaulted, according to Ulrich Roux, the lawyer who is representing the victim and another passenger involved in a similar assault who managed to escape. Two individuals have been arrested in connection with the attacks, one of whom was a former Uber driver who had cleared all background checks and had no previous criminal background, the company has said.

It adds to the growing global concerns surrounding Uber safety; sexual assaults by drivers have already sparked controversy in major markets like the United States, Canada and India.

Last week, after television station ANN7 ran a story about another alleged attack on a female Uber passenger, the women’s wing of the ruling party aired its concerns.

“Several cases against Uber drivers [that] entail kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault have been reported to the South African Police Service,” Meokgo Matuba, the secretary-general of the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL), said in a statement. “we need it banned.”

Uber is expected to be hit by bans from several countries in the coming weeks.

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