At least two people have been injured in what appears to be violence between taxi drivers and ride-hailing service contractors with Uber, Bolt, or both.
The attacks reportedly occurred at Maponya Mall in Soweto, with bystanders reporting that taxi drivers were responsible for the violence.
One video showed a man hitting another who was approaching a vehicle with a blunt weapon. Another man then walks to the car and starts smashing the windows.
Other videos show vehicles on fire, and gunshots can be heard in the background.
eNCA reported that two people were injured in the attacks, and at least three vehicles were burnt.
This is not the first time Uber and Bolt drivers would have been targeted by taxi drivers.
In July last year, a vigilante mob in Parkwood, Cape Town, murdered a Bolt driver after a person on social media claimed someone in a suspicious vehicle was abducting girls in the area.
In September 2021, there were several reports of incidents around the country, including taxi drivers assaulting e-hailing contractors at Greenacres Shopping Centre in Gqerberha.
In another incident, a driver was attacked in Katlehong, Alberton.
MyBroadband contacted Uber and Bolt for comment and will update this article if we receive feedback.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the recent incident, this is something no one should ever go through,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement by email.
“We take any incident of this nature very seriously and our safety team is investigating these incidents as a matter of urgency. We are in close contact with the police and stand ready to help law enforcement with their investigation.”
Bolt’s regional manager for East and Southern Africa, Takura Malaba, said they are aware of the incidents that took place at Maponya Mall yesterday.
“Crime against ride-hailing drivers continues to be a national issue of great concern and the safety of passengers and drivers that use the Bolt platform is of utmost importance to us,” Malaba said.
“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 also South African Police Services (SAPS) including Crime Intelligence in order to ensure that the matter is closely monitored and to support the criminal investigations currently underway.”
Bolt condemned criminal conduct and violence of any form directed towards ride-hailing drivers and said it does not compete with minibus taxis.
“Public transport has multiple modes, and Bolt acts as an important component of multimodal transport and is an important option available for passengers,” stated Malaba.
Maponya Mall also confirmed the incident in a statement on Friday afternoon.
“We can confirm that an altercation occurred last night between taxi drivers, meter taxis, and other e-hailing services within the vicinity of our premises, resulting in unrest and damage to several vehicles,” a spokesperson said.
“One person sustained serious injuries and was promptly taken to hospital for medical attention. Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities.”
The mall’s management appealed for calm, asking the community to support their efforts to restore normalcy and maintain a peaceful environment.
“We understand the concerns and anxieties this incident has raised among our valued employees, customers, tenants, and the broader community. We would like to assure everyone that their safety and well-being remain our utmost priority.”
SANTACO, you need to urgently call your members to order this unacceptable, we can’t allow taxi drivers to behave like this, vandalising, burning Uber and Bolt cars. You can see them hitting and shooting at the poor drivers. Again, what about the safety of shoppers at Maponya… pic.twitter.com/QxGEu8Gqva
— Thulani Ndaba (@tndaba) June 2, 2023