Uber and Bolt drivers banned from Soweto malls for three months

E-hailing drivers from Uber and Bolt will not pick up or drop off shoppers at any malls in Soweto for the next three months.

This arrangement forms part of an agreement reached between the Soweto United E-hailing Association and the Soweto Taxi Association during a meeting at the Kliptown police station on Wednesday, 7 June 2023.

It comes after recent clashes between minibus taxi owners and e-hailing drivers at Maponya Mall and Protea Glen Mall.

During the first altercation at Maponya Mall on the evening of Thursday, 1 June 2023, at least two people were reported to have been injured, and three e-hailing vehicles destroyed.

Video of the incidents shared on social media showed men hitting each other and the vehicles.

There were also clips showing multiple cars engulfed in flames, and where gunshots could be heard in the background.

In the second incident, at least one car was reportedly torched and another e-hailing driver injured outside Protea Glen Mall on Monday, 5 June 2023.

Gauteng mayoral committee member for transport, Kenny Kunene, who also attended the meeting, confirmed the compromise in an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday night.

Kunene said that the e-hailing representatives had agreed that their drivers would not enter shopping mall parking lots but would pick up passengers outside their gates.

He said an exemption would be given to drivers transporting the elderly and people with disabilities.

Kunene said the “ban” would only last until Friday, 9 June 2023, when a follow-up meeting would occur to finalise solutions.

But the Soweto United E-hailing Association told Sunday Times and Power 98.7 FM that an agreement was already in place until September 2023.

E-hailing drivers have said that the Soweto Taxi Association was behind the attacks.

They claim owners of taxis that belong to the organisation accuse Bolt and Uber drivers of “stealing” their business.

Kunene alleged that the real issue was rogue operators — nicknamed “maphele” (Sotho for “cockroaches”) — who impersonated e-hailing drivers.

These individuals supposedly approach potential passengers at mall exits and tell them they are Bolt and Uber drivers.

They then offer to take the prospective customers to their destination for half the rate they would pay when booking through one of the apps.

Uber and Bolt cars allegedly set on fire

In a statement on Tuesday, 6 June 2023, the E-hailing Partners Council said the root cause of the attacks was a lack of regulation — including a recognised form of driver identification — in the e-hailing industry.

“The Transport Amendment Bill should have been signed into law by now to address the e-hailing legitimacy question,” the council said.

The inability to identify e-hailing drivers possibly played a role in the murder of a Bolt driver by a vigilante mob in Parkwood, Cape Town, in July 2022.

That incident came after a claim on social media that a suspicious vehicle was driving around the area and abducting young girls.

It turned out that the driver — 30-year-old Abongile Mafalala — was transporting children to and from school.

Another major sticking point has been that minibus taxis and metered cabs are only allowed to operate within certain areas, as determined by their permits.

This does not apply to e-hailing drivers, who are allowed to transport passengers outside specific permit-designated zones.

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Uber and Bolt drivers banned from Soweto malls for three months