root - May 14, 2024

Charges escalated from intent to cause grievous bodily harm, to attempted murder

  • Youngsters on a Saturday night Bolt trip to Dunoon end up injured.
  • The alleged attack occurred after the passengers had to be driven to Table View so that they could withdraw money to pay for their ride. 
  • Driver Benedict Chitungu awaits his bail application. 

Peter Luhanga 

 The 39-year-old Bolt driver accused of stabbing two female passengers on Saturday 4 May made his first court appearance for a bail hearing in the Cape Town Magistrate Court on Friday 10 May. 

Benedict Chitungu is alleged to have stabbed Silu Daniso, 21, and Nolusindiso Dlangamandla, 20, following an argument after they had requested a ride from Monte Vista to Dunoon.

On Friday Chitungu’s charge was escalated from intent to cause grievous bodily harm to two counts of attempted murder. Defence attorney Shagan Balram argued Balram should be granted bail as he had no outstanding or pending cases, was a Zimbabwean legally living in South Africa, and his guardian had provided proof of address. 

Balram stated Balram had voluntarily surrendered himself to the Table View police on Wednesday 8 May and had cooperated with police. 

Appearing for the state was prosecutor Randall Cupido.

Magistrate Alida Theart adjourned the proceedings to Friday, 17 May, for the bail application. 

Outside, Balram said his client would enter a plea of not guilty and demonstrate his innocence during the trial.

On Tuesday, 7 May, Silu Daniso, 21, and Nolusindiso Dlangamandla, 20, accompanied by Emihle Mfanta, 22, another passenger from Chitungu’s Bolt van, along with Daniso’s mother, Zanele, and a small group of Dunoon residents, visited the Table View police station to inquire about Chitungu’s arrest. They returned on Wednesday, 8 May, coinciding with Chitungu’s voluntary surrender on the same day.

Speaking to Iliso laBantu 8 May, Daniso said the group of six had requested a ride on the e-hailing platform Bolt on 4 May, but when the arrived at Dunoon they struggled to make an EFT payment to Chitungu, who then agreed to drive them to a nearby petrol station to draw money from an ATM. However, the petrol station was closed for upgrades, and they drove on to Table View, where they withdrew R150 from an ATM. Daniso said they then asked Chitungu to drive them back to Dunoon, but he refused, saying the trip had ended. When they requested a refund as the initial trip from Monte Vista to Dunoon was R90 and they had paid him R150, Chitungu allegedly declined and instead drove them to the Table View police station. While at the police station, one of the passengers spoke to an officer and returned, stating that Chitungu should drop them in Dunoon.

Daniso said Chitungu started driving to Marine Drive instead. Her friend then used his cellphone to start filming Chitungu, which upset him, and he confiscated the phone before stopping the car and attacking them. ‘I cannot say he used a knife, I just felt sharp pain. I’ve seventeen stitches, and my friend has 10 stitches,” said Daniso.  

The site where the alleged attack took place was along Otto du Plessis Drive, opposite Dolphin Beach.

Daniso said they then called a family member who live in Parklands, who responded swiftly and took them to the Dunoon Community Health Centre.

Dlangamandla said they were en route to Kwa MaOrange in Dunoon on the Saturday evening.

“I was not thinking about anything and did not follow the argument in front. I was sitting in the back seat. It [Chitungu’s van] is a seven-seater. I noticed the car coming to a stop, and everyone jumped out. Since I was at the back, I had to pull the seat in front down to get out. As I was trying to get out, I tripped and fell, and that is when I was attacked” said  Dlangamandla.

She says Chitungu was quiet during the trip and only replied to questions when prompted.

“He was only replying when we asked. He looked like he is a down-to-earth person. Chilled,” said Dlangamandla. 

She explained that there were six people in Chitungu’s van: five girls between the ages of 20 and 23, and a man.

Bolt’s Africa Public Relations Manager, Sandra Buyole, confirmed that Chitungu has been blocked from using the platform while they conduct their own internal investigation, and were supporting the police investigation.

Buyole stated: “Bolt has offered face-to-face counselling to the riders at a location of their choice, and they have since declined.”

She stated that the safety of Bolt passengers is of utmost importance to the company, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve passenger safety on their platform. Currently,  she stated passengers on her platform have access to various safety features, including an emergency response service integrated into the app through their partnership with the Automobile Association (AA). Activating this service shares the driver’s details and location with AA’s 24/7 contact centre and immediately deploys private security and emergency services. 

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