Gauteng’s e-hailing crime fighters

The Wolves, a group of Uber and Bolt drivers, has recently garnered widespread social media attention because of their vigilante actions against criminals.

Due to increased crime in areas across Johannesburg, e-hailing services were temporarily suspended from working within particular areas in February, leaving many commuters stranded.

One of these places was Eldorado Park in Soweto, the birthplace of the Wolves.

In an interview on Cape Talk, a Wolves member, known as Wolf #14, said the group was formed in mid-February due to the increased criminality experienced by e-hailing drivers across Gauteng.

“We as drivers struggle a lot with hijackings, taxi conflict, and passengers as well,” he said.

Wolf #14 said he was motivated by two female drivers to start the group to protect themselves as they believed the police were ineffectual in doing so.

The group now has roughly 370 members and can be identified by a green sticker containing the image of a wolf and each member’s number.

The Wolves’ actions on TikTok have generated a lot of interest, with a following of over 45,000.

Their widespread social media attention has even resulted in multiple members of the public alerting them to crimes as if they were a private security company.

However, the group says it only protects its members, which is its purpose.

When asked about whether their actions constitute vigilantism, Wolf #14 quickly opposed this.

“How sure are you that we don’t have people within the police force that are working with us,” Wolf #14 responded.

“We’re just regular, everyday sisters, brothers, aunties, and fathers. We’re just normal people protecting each other.”

Although the group has just passed halfway to its membership cap of 600, it wants to expand and include members from different parts of the country.

Uber and Bolt cars on fire during clashes with taxi drivers.

In June 2023, the conflict between taxi and e-hailing drivers reached such an extreme that Uber and Bolt drivers were banned from servicing commuters at all malls in Soweto for three months.

The first altercation involved the burning of three e-hailing vehicles and two drivers being injured.

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

E-hailing drivers 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.

Gauteng mayoral committee member for transport, Kenny Kunene, alleged that the real issue was rogue operators — nicknamed “maphele” (Sotho for “cockroaches”) — who impersonated e-hailing drivers.

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.

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Gauteng’s e-hailing crime fighters