Pretoria – Police in Gauteng are investigating a case of attempted murder and malicious damage to property following a violent attack on purported drivers of e-hailing vehicles by a group of minibus taxi drivers at Maponya Mall in Soweto.
“It is reported that on the evening of June 1, 2023, the minibus taxi drivers attacked the alleged e-hailing drivers,” Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said.
“Three vehicles were torched and the owners were assaulted and one of them shot. All three victims were taken to a local hospital.”
Police said four more vehicles were also damaged.
“At this stage the police cannot confirm the identity of the victims and whether they are indeed e-hailing drivers pending an investigation,” said Nevhuhulwi.
“No suspects have been arrested as yet. The police maintain a presence in that area to ensure stability and safety for the commuters.”
Bolt drivers being attacked and shot at then their cars being set on fire at Maponya Mall Soweto on Thursday evening by taxi drivers pic.twitter.com/hHmBbOzkh7— The Instigator (@Am_Blujay) June 2, 2023
Shots rang out as crowds of people watched while the vehicles were torched outside the Maponya Mall in an attack that appears to be part of the long-running turf war between taxi operators and e-hailing drivers.
Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, the South African E-Hailing Association’s spokesperson Vhatuka Mbelengwa said the incident was part of a decade-long debacle.
“It will never really be clear (regarding the assailants) but the general assumption would be that it is the local taxi players that sit at the rank there. I am very cautious as to blame somebody, or identify the assailant … I leave that to law enforcement,” said Mbelengwa.
“I can tell you to however expect more eruptions like this, all over the country. The frustration of the transport industry, the taxi industry, is going to gain expression through such acts over the next few weeks.
“I think all participants should be more alert and be safe,” he said.
In the videos circulating, some people can be seen being assaulted, while others are seen running for their live’s. In another video, a group of men are seen vandalising a supposed e-hailing vehicle, while at least two vehicles burn.
Mbelengwa the decade-long violence was a result of government’s failure to regulate the transport industry so that all role-players can operate in a safe ecosystem.
“Our government has failed to create a healthy ecosystem within transport where the different participants can complement each other instead of compete with each other,” he said.
“As a failure of the government to deploy a price-determining instrument within the e-hailing industry, the Bolt and Ubers of this world have undermined the traditional transport industry, the traditional taxi industry, and the pricing is set to compete directly with that segment of public transport, which makes no sense.”
In one of the videos, a man is hit on the head with a knobkerrie and he flees. The assailants then smash two vehicles.