Over the past few months, Uber and Taxify drivers around the country have reported a surge of violence against them by metered taxi drivers. Some have had petrol thrown on them and been set alight and others have been hijacked.
Teresa Leslie-Munchick, spokesperson for the two groups (called The Movement), said Uber vehicles were under attack “almost on a daily basis” by meter taxis. The violence had become especially bad at airports and malls.
“The police have not been helpful at all and we decided to start the petition because we need the public’s help,” she said. Currently the petition is at 1800 signatures.
The dispute is about unfair competition between the transport app giant and local meter taxis, which claim that Uber’s vehicles are not roadworthy and not licensed.
Taxify driver Obert Moyo said he had his car smashed in front of police. “Every day it happens They follow you and they beat you,” he said. “We are not violent, we have been asking for help because we need it.”
MEC for Transport Donald Grant said he was “aware of a few cases of violence” against Uber drivers in Cape Town, “But I wasn’t aware of how big it actually is. We condemn the violence, and from time to time we engage with stakeholders to look at ways we can address this,” he said.
Hendricks Ndou, spokesperson for the Provincial Metered Taxi Association, said: “I have seen that there is a huge surge of violence between the two groups and I don’t want to say that it’s the meter taxis because they are also under attack and victimised.”
Ndou said the meter taxi operators complained that it seemed Uber could do as it pleased.
“Those vehicles are not licensed to operate in certain areas and it gives the impression that Uber drivers can do as they wish,” he said.
Uber said it was aware of reports of intimidation against its drivers: “We’re working with private security, police and relevant stakeholders to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”