Johannesburg - Three cars were set alight in Sandton in a suspected incident related to the ongoing fight between metered taxis and ride-sharing app, Uber, Gauteng police said on Friday.
Provincial spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said police received information that vehicles were on fire on West street in Sandton on Thursday night.
"Upon arrival police found three cars that were set alight and one car that the back window was damaged. Preliminary investigation revealed that two of the burnt cars belong to Uber and the third one a belong to the metered taxi. All the drivers of the cars escaped unharmed," he said.
"It is suspected that the incident is related to the ongoing fight between the metered taxis and the Ubers. The situation is under control and back to normal at the moment and police investigation is continuing. Police presence has been intensified to continue monitoring the situation."
Earlier on Thursday night, Uber confirmed that a car registered on the application was set alight in Sandton.
"We’re aware of the situation in Sandton. At this time we can confirm that one vehicle is registered to use the Uber app (1/2)," Uber South Africa tweeted shortly before 9pm.
"We are currently investigating the second vehicle (2/2)."
In a statement on Thursday night, Uber confirmed that at least one of the vehicles was registered on the Uber app, while investigations continued on the second vehicle.
"We are relieved to hear the driver of the first vehicle was not injured, we are reaching out to offer our support. On being. Profiles of this incident our operations, security and law enforcement teams immediately reached out to the relevant authorities," Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg said in a statement.
"Any situation where driver safety is out at risk is absolutely unacceptable to us. That people are choosing violence and threats against those bringing choice in transportation is completely unacceptable."
Earlier, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department said two taxis were set alight.
"We can confirm that two Uber taxis were set alight on Maude Street and West Street in Sandton. According to the information we have so far, there are no injuries. The scene has been cordoned off," spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said at the time.
According to reports, the situation in Sandton was tense on Thursday night, as the Uber drivers went looking for the mob of metered taxi drivers who allegedly petrol bombed the cars.
Meanwhile, Twitter users said that the cars were petrol bombed and calling the situation "volatile" after police had to reportedly use stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
One user wrote: "Just as I was about to mission to groove they burn 3 Uber's in front of our hotel and pour petrol on the driver [sic]".
Another user tweeted: "Taxi drivers are burning Uber's in Sandton. Stay safe if you taking Uber tonight".
Another tweeted: "Uber drivers are not safe anywhere in Jo'burg its so sad.."
Meanwhile, Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba called on provincial authorities to intervene tweeting, "The Uber/Meter taxi matter is unfortunately outside my direct jurisdiction. We hope the Provincial structures will appropriately handle."
The Uber/Meter taxi matter is unfortunately outside my direct jurisdiction. We hope the Provincial structures will appropriately handle— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) September 7, 2017
Incidences between metered taxi drivers, who are losing market share and Uber drivers have become physical in the last few months. In July an Uber driver died from his injuries after his car was set alight near Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria. The SA Meter Taxi Association has persistently denied any involvement in the attacks on Uber drivers.African News Agency