Johannesburg - Panicked e-hailing drivers from Uber and Bolt say taxi operators have ramped up their fight against them, with several no-go areas being shared on Friday, mostly around taxi ranks and malls in Joburg.
This follows the torching and stoning of vehicles owned by e-hailing operators at the Maponya Mall in Soweto on Thursday night.
At least three cars were torched at the mall while four others, including private cars mistaken for e-hailing operators, were severely damaged when a group of about 30 people believed to be taxi operators attacked the e-hailing operators.
On Friday, several areas around Joburg, mainly taxi ranks and shopping malls, were being declared as unsafe and no-go areas by panicked drivers.
– Bree Taxi Rank, Johannesburg
– Boulders Shopping Centre, Midrand
– OR Tambo International Airport vicinity
– Kempton Park vicinity
– Eastgate Shopping Centre, Bedfordview
– Trade Route Mall, Lenasia
IOL has reached out to Acsa for comment.
“Bree Taxi Rank is a no-go zone until further notice, they are beating drivers and stoning cars. Can you inform other e-hailing drivers in the WhatsApp groups,” said one e-hailing driver in a circulated voice note.
Another who was in the Kempton Park area, said a group of people thought to be taxi operators targeted drivers who were parked together waiting for rides.
“They are going straight to where the e-hailing drivers are assembled and they are beating whoever they can find, be careful guys,” said another driver.
Uber spokesperson Lorraine Onduru expressed distress at the events at Maponya Mall on Thursday night.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the recent incident, this is something no one should ever go through.
“We take any incident of this nature very seriously and our safety team is investigating these incidents as a matter of urgency,” said Onduru.
Uber said it was in contact with the police and would assist them in their investigation.
Bolt’s southern Africa regional manager Takura Malaba said the violence faced by e-hailing drivers was a matter of great concern, and the safety of passengers and drivers was of utmost importance.
“Bolt has currently suspended certain custom pick-up and drop-off points at the Maponya Mall to ensure that drivers and passengers are safe while we assess the situation, and has also ensured that these changes are communicated to our drivers.
“We have also escalated the issue with the management of Maponya Mall and SAPS including Crime Intelligence in order to ensure that the matter is closely monitored, and to support the criminal investigations currently underway,” said Malaba.
Bolt said it believed it was not in competition with minibus taxis and said it would share information about danger hotspots with drivers who would be able to decline trips if they are concerned about the pick-up location’s safety.
“Bolt is committed to working with all stakeholders in the transport industry to find a way for all parties to work alongside each other.
“We believe that all South Africans should have access to effective and safe transport,” said Malaba.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said, “the police are investigating a case of attempted murder and malicious damage to property following a fight between minibus taxi drivers and (a) few drivers believed to be e-hailers at Maponya Mall.
“It is reported that on the evening of 01 June 2023, the minibus taxi drivers attacked the alleged e-hailing drivers.
“Three vehicles were torched and the owners were assaulted and one of them shot. All three victims were taken to a local hospital,” said Nevhuhulwi.
Despite widely circulated video footage of the attacks on the e-hailing drivers, no suspects have been arrested.
“The police maintain a presence in that area to ensure stability and safety for the commuters,” said Nevhuhulwi.