Mbalula, Maswanganyi to step into Uber feud

Pretoria – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is to intervene in the apparent conflict between Uber drivers and meter taxi drivers.

This after violence escalated recently, resulting in the death of an Uber driver due to injuries he sustained during an attack near Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria on June 10.

News24 understands that more than 20 cases of malicious damage to property have been reported to police over the past two and a half months. The incidences are allegedly at the hands of both Uber drivers and meter taxi drivers.

Uber vehicles and those of meter taxi drivers have been stoned, petrol bombed and set alight in recent months. Both sides have blamed the other for the escalating violence.

READ: Uber wants help from Fikile Mbalula

Mbalula said the biggest issue they had been dealing with was taxi violence, which was cyclical.

"It comes, it goes. That's what we have been dealing with," he explained.  

“It is the first time that the Uber and the meter taxi conflict has been so sustained over a longer period...

“If we [had] sound crime intelligence, we should have seen this thing in our radar a long time ago and know that in South Africa, in ten years, we are going to have a conflict between Uber and meter taxis.”

The conflict between Uber and meter taxi drivers is not unique to South Africa.

Protests by taxi operators against Uber have been held in France, Canada, Italy, Brazil, Hungary, Belgium, and England, with most alleging that Uber enjoys freedom from regulations and operating licenses.

Attacks and intimidation on Uber drivers by alleged taxi drivers have also been reported in several countries including Kenya, Costa Rica, France, Australia and Brazil.

READ: Uber beefs up security for drivers after Pretoria fatality

Mbablula said on Tuesday that he had held a security meeting and that a plan had been put in place to deal with the criminal aspects around the conflict.

“The details of what we are going to do to prevent this, we can’t give to you, because we need to arrest those who are doing these illegal activities and think that in darkness they will never be found. We will find them.”

Mbalula said while he understood the issues raised by the meter taxis, at the center of the violence was competition, and the fact that Uber was too sophisticated in taking away a portion of the market from the taxi drivers.

“We need to address what meter taxis are raising and we need to talk to them because they are our brothers ... this is black industry.

“If we kill it, we are killing the bread of the majority of the disadvantaged, but equally Uber is not dominated by another racial group, it is the benefit of our people.”

Transport minister Joe Maswanganyi also announced on Tuesday that a meeting with both sides would be held soon to deal with the issues.

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