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Uber driver, metro cops attacked in Sandton

By Lindi Masinga Time of article published May 20, 2016

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Uber driver and three metro cops injured, metered taxi drivers say no let up in confrontation

16:40 / 20 MAY 2016

JOHANNESBURG, May 20 (ANA) – An Uber driver and three Johannesburg metro police officers were on Friday attacked and injured in Sandton allegedly by a group of agitated metered taxi drivers, who are up in arms over the imminent licencing of the significantly cheaper taxi service.

Metered taxi drivers and operators are concerned that customers are opting for Uber, leaving their businesses in dire straits.

The drivers could be heard warning that the violent attacks on Uber would not stop until it “shuts down”. A man in an Uber cab was injured after a huge brick was thrown at his car. The brick smashed his windscreen and hurt his arm.

But metered taxi drivers and operators said there would be no let up in the confrontations.

“We will not stop. It’s stupid that we charge R14 then Uber charges R5 that isn’t fair competition. Cape Town and Durban have been in the same predicament. We are trying for ourselves,” said Reuben Mzayiya, owner of Gauteng Cabs and former Chairperson of Gauteng Provincial Meter Taxi Association.

“Our children are starving. There are only two solutions – it is either Uber is shut down or another company creates an app with fair charges.”

Recounting the earlier violence, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson, Wayne Minnar, said: “A fight broke out between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers close to the Gauteng train station in Sandton before 1pm today.

“Three metro police officers intervened to stop the fight, but were injured by stones that were thrown by drivers. The officers were taken to the Milpark Hospital, no one has been arrested and the incident will be investigated.”

Explaining why metered taxi drivers and operators were gathered, Mzayiya said they were expecting to get “feedback” from the Premier’s office after the violent incident on Monday.

Gauteng MEC for transport, Ismail Vadi, was assaulted allegedly by meter taxi drivers after he told reporters that Uber would be getting operating licences.

“We had scheduled a meeting at the Premier’s Office and gave them a 48-hour deadline to meet with the Director General or Premier David Makhura. They called and said there would be no meeting with Makhura,” said Mzayiya.

He said the “response” from the Premier’s Office sparked the violence in Sandton.

“The government has caused this because they have allowed Uber. Drivers say they will not stop. How can an MEC launch a company that isn’t a government department, they are bias towards Uber. There is no benefit from Uber,” said Mzayiya.

He said a metered taxi driver had been arrested and another was in hospital.

“We can’t fold our arms, we are unapologetic about what has happened,” said Mzayiya.

In response to the incident, Uber said: “We are aware of the intimidation occurring at Sandton Gautrain Station and are taking all of the necessary steps to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

“We are working with private security, JMPD, South African Police Service, Gautrain and all other relevant stakeholders as we’re deeply committed to rider and driver safety. Driver partners have access to an emergency line in the event that they feel unsafe in any way.”

African News Agency

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