British girl who was taken hostage at Airbnb rental recounts scary ordeal
Airbnb has been at the centre of a few worrying stories about the treatment of lodgers who use the service. South African photographer Zanele Muholi published shocking footage showing her friend, filmmaker Sibahle Steve Nkumbi, being pushed down a flight of stairs in July 2017. According to reports, Nkumbi was due to check out of the apartment in Amsterdam which she had booked through Airbnb. Nkumbi, who is studying in Bern, Switzerland, was in Amsterdam for a friend's art exhibition. The irate owners - a couple - returned to find her at their property and the husband was particularly agitated. He allegedly hurled verbal abuse at them for being late and began shoving Nkumbi until he ultimately pushed her down the stairs. Following the incident, Nkumbi was hospitalized.
Airbnb's Director of Diversity and Belonging David King responded to the incident in a comment issued to British newspaper The Independent, saying:
"Nobody should ever be treated like this and it will not be tolerated. Appalling and unconscionable behaviour against members of our community runs counter to everything Airbnb stands for. Our CEO Brian Chesky and I are reaching out to the affected guests. We will take the strongest actions we can against such abhorrent conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement with their investigation and potential prosecution."
Now, new reports of another dangerous situation involving an Airbnb booking - this time due to a robbery incident - have surfaced. Rae Breakwell and her friend Paige Mitchell were holidaying in the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain in August 2017 when they were assaulted, kidnapped and robbed.
Breakwell and Mitchell recall arriving to a less than pleasant scene when they first moved into the accommodation booked through the popular website. Not only was it unkempt, they realised that they would not be the only residents at the location.
“When we got in, the place stank of alcohol and the curtains were drawn. We were sitting on the sofa and then the cousin rang and got angry when we told him we were in the apartment. We asked him what room we were in and he said ‘the one by the bathroom’ so we went in.
“In the room were two girls passed out, they didn’t even move when I opened the door. I rang the owner and she had no idea whether another room had been booked. We think now that the cousin had been partying in the room with the girls the night before, and that’s why he was being shady.”
The friends tried to put this cold welcome aside and enjoy their holiday, so they unpacked and went out. Upon their return, they discovered their valuables were missing. Breakwell says she immediately called her father as he is a police officer and he advised them to ask the other residents if they had seen her things. She then claimed that she noticed her make-up back in the room where the two girls were staying, but reports that they began to shout at her when she questioned them. This tense situation developed into a full-blown altercation which left Breakwell locked out of the apartment and Mitchell held inside the property. The two women are thought to have had a knife. Reports maintain that Mitchell made it to the door and the two women left immediately to check into a hotel. A few days later, the Breakwells arrived in Marbella for moral support and Paige and Rae stayed with them for the rest of the trip.
Frustrated by the feeling that nothing was being done about the incident, both from local police whom she was unable to communicate with due to the language barrier and also from Airbnb itself, Breakwell posted about the experience on Facebook.
“We are two young girls who were lead to believe we would be safe in Airbnb’s hands but instead we were left traumatised and our holiday was completely ruined. The fact your company has done nothing about this is absolutely disgusting, we would not wish this is happen to anybody else.”
Airbnb commented on her post saying a team member would be in touch about her concerns. They also issued this press statement: “We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour and are providing the guests with our full support. The host has been suspended while we urgently investigate.” According to reports, charges have now been filed. Airbnb has also suspended the host while investigations commence.