Sabah Grab drivers fear for safety after colleague is murdered

The body of Grab driver Mohd Hanafiee Jaffar was found near bushes at Sabandar in Tuaran, Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: News of the killing of a Grab driver here has struck fear among members of the e-hailing service in the city who are calling for measures to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers.

Sabah police today announced that they had arrested two men in connection with the robbery-cum-murder of Mohd Hanafiee Jaffar, 27, whose body was found dumped near bushes in Sabandar, Tuaran, near here.

A Grab driver, who only wanted to be known as JJ, said this was the worst crime involving a e-hailing driver in Kota Kinabalu, adding there had been muggings before but not murder.

“We are shocked and sad over what happened to Hanafiee and we are also angry because the booking system now doesn’t allow us to see who our passengers are but they can see us.

“And also we get plenty of third-party bookings (where one makes a booking but someone else takes the ride), which is actually dangerous.

“Perhaps the introduction of a rider identification system, where the names and photos of passengers are displayed, can solve this problem,” he told FMT.

Sabah police chief Omar Mammah had earlier today said the suspects – a 24-year-old Sahaban and the other a 20-year-old foreigner – had confessed to the murder, adding that the motive was robbery.

He said that based on records shared by Grab, Hanafiee had picked up two passengers at Kingfisher Park in Likas here to go to Tuaran at 4am on Friday, the day he was last seen.

Hanafiee’s car was found parked near a Ramadan bazaar in Indah Permai near here at 12.30am on Sunday. The car was locked but there were bloodstains on the steering wheel, handbrake, the inside windscreen and the front door.

JJ said there were several black areas where drivers were not encouraged to pick up passengers.

“These are places notorious for having a large presence of foreigners, such as Kampung Likas, Sepanggar and Taman Telipok Ria. Honestly, if I received requests from these areas, I will just cancel them.

“I’ve sent a passenger to Telipok Ria before and even the person told me there’s no need to drive in and to just drop him off at a shop outside because, according to him, it was dangerous,” he said.

Telipok Ria was also the scene of a hostage drama involving a suspected illegal immigrant who held a two-year-old girl at knifepoint before being shot dead by police earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a woman driver, Ira Uzair, said she also had a terrifying experience when a woman passenger, believed to be a foreigner, assaulted her last year.

The woman had insisted on being dropped off at the Immigration Department although she had wrongly pinned her location when she booked her ride.

“She went off at me and hit the back of my head. I called the Grab customer service and wanted to drive to the police station. But the woman quickly opened the door and fled,” Ira said, adding that she later lodged a police report.

She said such incidents could be avoided if they knew who their passengers were.

“People are still talking about the murder, especially among the women drivers. Many of us are worried about our safety,” said Ira, who has been driving for over a year.