SINGAPORE — He received driving jobs via Telegram and drove four women to secluded areas where he molested them.
One of the victims was so distressed by the actions of Muhammad Hafiz Maksah that she cut and burnt herself in an attempt to escape. After she failed to do so, Hafiz molested her.
Hafiz, a 27-year-old Singaporean, was jailed for five years and 10 months on Wednesday (23 December) and given six strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to three charges of molesting the three women, one of whom he had restrained.
A charge involving the fourth woman was taken into consideration for his sentencing. Another charge involving him threatening one of the victims was also considered for his sentencing.
Hafiz had joined a group offering rides on Telegram. He was previously worked as a Grab driver but was suspended in August last year.
One of the victims – a 21-year-old woman – posted a message on the Telegram chat group “Ride Kakis (NTU)” to request for a ride on 11 October last year.
Hafiz responded and picked up the woman at about 7.15pm that day. The woman, known as JC in court documents, sat at the front passenger seat and fell asleep.
When she woke up, she realised that Hafiz was heading into a multi-storey car park. She asked him about the detour, and Hafiz claimed that he needed to pick something up. JC told him that she was running late but Hafiz assured her that the errand would not take long.
After Hafiz parked his car, JC began to feel anxious. The woman offered $10 for the ride and wanted to leave but Hafiz asked her to wait.
After Hafiz tapped her arm and rested his hand on her thigh, JC threw the $10 at him and squeezed herself out of the car. She fled the carpark and made a police report the next day.
“While she has recovered, she is now afraid to sit in the front passenger seat in taxis and has not taken Grab or ride sharing hires alone in a very long time,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Tong Yi told the court.
Another woman, known as MT, had been engaging Hafiz’s services since 5 October last year through a Telegram chat group known as “SG Hitch”. She booked his services without issue on around six occasions.
During a subsequent ride on 12 October last year, which MT had booked with the intention to go home, Hafiz molested her. He told her that he had booked the girl a Grab ride and that he would pick her up at a location in Jurong West.
A Grab driver sent MT to the location and she then boarded Hafiz’s car. Claiming that he needed to run an errand, Hafiz drove her to a multi-storey car park, intending to have sex with MT.
Under the pretext of waiting for a friend, Hafiz suggested they play a game, with the loser having to do five forfeits. They moved to the back seat to play the game, with MT eventually losing.
“For the first and second forfeits, the accused asked MT to send a message saying ‘I’m crazy’ to a random person the accused chose from MT’s contacts list and to sing a song for 10 seconds, respectively. MT complied and performed the two forfeits,” said the DPP.
Despite MT’s requests to go home, Hafiz insisted that they leave only after she completed all five forfeits, which began to take on a sexual tone. MT sat in the front seat, pretending to charge her phone but Hafiz made her get into the backseat. He took away her phone and told her to kiss his lips for the third forfeit.
MT refused but did not leave as she was unfamiliar with the area. Distressed, she found a glass which she used to cut her wrist but Hafiz did not react. She then tried to climb over the ledge of the carpark but was forcibly pulled back by him.
“At this stage, MT was in tears and again requested the accused to bring her home. The accused refused to relent and told her that she would have to finish her forfeits before he would bring her home,” said DPP Tan.
The victim began harming herself, including burning her hand and banging her head against the window in a bid to have Hafiz release her. Instead, he pinned her down and smacked her buttocks, saying he could hurt her further.
When MT refused to have sex with him, Hafiz demanded that she lick his toes and she gave in. Hafiz also touched her left breast.
Hafiz eventually drove MT home. MT made a police report later that day.
Earlier this year, another 21-year-old woman, SS, posted a request for a ride on Telegram group “SG Hitch – Premium” on 16 March. She took a taxi booked by Hafiz and noticed that the location indicated in the vehicle was Jurong East even though she wanted to head to her home in Woodlands.
Hafiz was waiting at the Jurong East location, which was in a secluded area. After SS alighted, Hafiz told her that she was sharing the ride with him. He told SS to board his van and she complied, fearing that he would harm her. He drove her to another secluded area in Sembawang before stopping outside a mosque, where he pretended to wait for someone else.
While SS was in the midst of adjusting her sitting position, Hafiz placed both his hands on her buttocks.
SS asked Hafiz to bring her to the main road but he declined to do so as he claimed that he was “lazy” and “tired”. He later drove her to the main road after he spotted two auxiliary police vehicles driving by.
After the incident, SS reported a loss of appetite and cried several times. She still fears taking cabs at night alone.
In mitigation, Hafiz’s lawyer, Sofia Bakhash, said her client was having emotional troubles and difficulties expressing himself. She added, “Nonetheless this is no excuse for his actions at that point in time.”
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