Nairobi Uber driver accused of assaulting client speaks out
A Nairobi taxi driver affiliated to Uber has broken his silence on allegations of assaulting a female client last week and dropping her off before she had reached her destination.
The victim, Catherine Njeri, took to Facebook on Saturday evening to narrate her ordeal, in which she accused the taxi driver of punching her and dropping her off along Forest Road.
But in an e-mail interview with Nairobi News, Stephen Okeyo denied assaulting Ms Njeri, but acknowledged to having a confrontation with her during the drive from city centre to Parklands.
According to Mr Okeyo, the woman was not a ‘normal client’ and cited an incident during the drive that made him fear for his security in the face of recent anti-Uber protests in Nairobi.
Mr Okeyo confirmed that he indeed picked up Ms Njeri on Saturday night at Nakumatt Supermarket near City Hall. She wanted to be taken to her apartment along Forest Road.
“When I got to the U-turn at the intersection of Thika superhighway and the Forest Road, she ordered me to stop the car. I did. She tried to get out of the car but couldn’t because I had the central lock on.
“I asked why she was getting out of the car in the middle of the road and she screamed and ordered me to open the door but I refused. I refused because we were in the middle of the road and at a U turn. It’s a very unsafe place because there are street families around the place. At this point I knew I wasn’t having a normal client in my car.
WON’T PAY FARE
“I drove on and when I got to the first tarmacked left turn she told me she was already home and so I should drop her. I calculated the fare and asked to pay me the Ksh 550 which she out rightly said she won’t pay. And in fact she never paid.
“As we were still arguing about payment, I heard some sounds like someone was trying to open the back doors of my car. When I checked, there were four men trying to open the car’s back doors. I connected immediately the stories of Uber taxis being attacked and the recent one that was burnt. I sped off,” wrote Mr Okeyo in his e-mail.
After driving off, he alerted Ms Njeri that they have to report the attempted attack at Parklands Police station.He claims the client turned violent and started hitting him with her handbag.
“As I proceeded she turned violent. She was cursing me and hitting me with her handbag. She was hitting the windscreen and the passenger door glass. I reasoned that because I could not control the car well due to her actions, I should let her go,” he said.
He saw a night guard walk out of the gate of an apartment block located opposite a church. He felt safe to drop the client at that point.
“I stopped and opened the central lock. She hurriedly got out of the car. She walked for about a hundred metres and then a motorbike picked her up,” wrote Mr Okeyo.
In her Facebook post, Ms Njeri claimed she was rescued by a delivery man on a motorcycle who took her to Parklands police station.
Mr Okeyo drove to Parklands police station soon after to report the incident, but on arrival, was informed that a lady had just reported an assault case against him.
He also recorded his statement and was let go.
STORM MANAGER’S OFFICE
On Monday, Mr Okeyo said he tried seeking an audience with Uber Kenya but was brushed off until he forced his way into the marketing manager’s office.
“I waited for about one and half hours to talk to someone. When I got the chance I was told I should go away, that no one wanted to see or talk to me in that office. I got annoyed and forced my way into the executive office at least to also tell my story. I got the chance with Uber marketing manager and we talked as he recorded our conversation,” he wrote.
Mr Okeyo added that he is yet to receive any communication from the police on the matter.
When Nairobi News emailed Uber on Monday for a response on the matter, we were redirected to the the press office.
The press office has since not responded to our queries.
Ms Njeri, in her a Facebook post, accused Uber of partnering with violent and suspicious drivers. She claimed Mr Okeyo had punched her on the arm and kept monitoring her movements after dropping her off.