When renowned Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina was attacked a couple of months ago by a taxi driver in Berlin, most people read his narration on FB and claimed the story was false. Unfortunately, history repeat itself.
An Italian taxi driver this Wednesday lost his driver’s licence after he robbed and attacked a Kenyan biologist, who had boarded his taxi on her way home.
2am on Friday morning, 2nd December in Bolzano, a small town in Southern Tyrol in Italy: 33 year old Kenyan biologist was going home after dinner with a friend and decided to take a cab from Pfarrhofweg towards her home on the Palermostraße. She hailed a cab and got in. She expected the driver to use the usual route but assuming she was new in town, he decided to take a considerably longer route. The lady infuriated by the outright conmanship, decided to confront the guy. Evidently angry at being found out, the confrontation escalated into a shouting match. The lady continuously asked the man to call the police to settle the issue, but that did not settle him down.
At the Palermobrücke, the taxi driver had had enough and he stopped the car. He got off and turned on the lady continuing to beat her. When the lady tried to pull out her phone and call the police, he snatched it and threw it away before he took the 50 euros, the lady had.
After the driver had driven away and asked a lady that was passing by for her phone and she was able to call her husband and the police. She later had to be rushed to the ER for emergency care. She had a minor nose injury and several injuries on her.
Unknown to the driver, the lady who is a well known biologist in the area has lived in Bolzano for 12 years; she’s married to a man from the area and has a 12 year old daughter.
The next day, the lady and her Italian husband went out in search of the phone at the scene of the altercation. Fortunately, the GPS function of her phone was turned on and she could use her husband’s phone to find it. She had used the phone to record the incident and it was therefore important to find it and use it as evidence at the court case. Luckily, they were able to find it in the bushes next to the bridge, with a broken screen but functioning nonetheless. Some of the comments recorded from the taxi driver’s rant that night include: “I will knock of your teeth”; “I’ll clobber you”. ( If you understand Italian, you can find the recording here.)
The lady who has lived in Italy for the last 12 years had to go to hospital twice due to the attack by the taxi driver. The driver is now facing charges for robbery, aggravated threats and bodily harm. The lady and her husband are of the opinion that the attack was purely racial. Maria Laura Lorenzini, who was responsible for the case from the Bolzano City Council side said the case was probably racially motivated.
On Monday, the Bolzano City Council strongly condemned the taxi driver’s behavior. The Mayor of Bolzano, Renzo Caramaschi, is calling for the suspension of the driver’s licence, however, the decision may only be made by the Taxi Commission.
“In this case, the license has to be withdrawn from the driver”, Ulrike Oberhammer, the President of the Land Advisory Council on Equal Opportunities urges. “It simply cannot be, that women do not have the security to come home in a taxi at night undamaged.”
On Wednesday the eleven-headed Bozner Taxi Commission will deal with the case. A preliminary withdrawal of the taxi license for violations of the relevant municipal regulations is expected. Some of the driver’s colleagues have argued that the driver might have been the victim in this incident, claiming that the lady had pulled on his hair thus the altercation that ensued.