17 July 2017

South Africa: Uber and Meter Taxi Feud Claims Life of Driver

The violent feud between Uber and meter taxi drivers has claimed its first murder.

Uber South Africa confirmed on Monday morning that one of their "driver-partners" died from injuries he sustained during an attack near Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria on June 10. The Springboks were playing against France at Loftus that afternoon.

"He was attacked by a small group of unknown individuals and his car was set alight while he was in the vehicle, leading to him sustaining serious injuries," said Uber SA spokesperson Samantha Allenberg in a statement.

The Uber driver had suffered serious burn wounds.

"This incident is deeply upsetting to all of us at Uber. This driver-partner is a part of our community. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time," she said.

Allenberg said they had been in touch with the family since the incident had occurred and that they "are supporting them where possible".

Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said the Uber driver had died in hospital and that police changed the case from attempted murder to murder.

Police are still looking for the suspects and investigations are ongoing said Makhubela.

Uber SA condemned the violent acts saying that these actions do not represent the entire industry and that the violence and intimidation against those who choose to use technology apps, like Uber, must stop.

Uber also has a team of former law enforcement professionals who are working with the police to support their investigation.

This appears to be the first murder in an apparent ongoing feud between disgruntled drivers from both Uber and the meter taxi communities.

Previous attacks

News24 understands that dozens of cases of malicious damage to property have been opened by both Uber and meter taxi drivers in recent months after their vehicles have been stoned, petrol bombed or set alight.

In the beginning of July, an Uber vehicle was set alight in Hatfield, Pretoria, while the driver managed to escape any serious injuries, the car was completely destroyed.

The driver told police he was an Uber driver, however, Uber SA said the vehicle was not registered on their app.

In what police suspect and meter-taxi drivers' claim was retaliation for the attack on the Uber vehicle in Hatfield the day before, a meter taxi driver was set alight when his vehicle was petrol bombed in Sunnyside, Pretoria.

The driver sustained minor burn wounds to his back and left arm. Bystanders managed to douse the flames in the taxi before it caused any major damage.

News24 is in possession of the security footage of the incident.

There were two other incidents in which metered taxis were stoned and petrol bombed in Sunnyside on the same day.

Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo at the time confirmed all three.

Uber drivers and meter taxi drivers, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, spoke to News24, blaming each other for what they called a war.

Both sides argue that the feud emanates for regulations and turf.

Uber SA has requested an urgent meeting with the Police Minister and the Minister of Transport to resolve this situation, while Gauteng Metered Taxi Association spokesperson Reuben Mzayiya told News24 that they have been in ongoing meetings with the department of transport addressing all the issues.

Source: News24

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