Uber drivers' cars torched in South Africa in clash with traditional cabbies

Two of the torched vehicles seen behind a police cordon after clashes broke out between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers in Sandton City, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sept 7, 2017.
Two of the torched vehicles seen behind a police cordon after clashes broke out between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers in Sandton City, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Three cars were torched in a Johannesburg business district on Thursday (Sept 7) in the latest clash between drivers with ride-hailing service Uber and traditional cabbies.

"Three cars were set alight," police spokesman Mavela Masondo told AFP, adding that two of the vehicle were believed to belong to Uber drivers while one was owned by a cab driver.

A fourth car had its windows smashed in the confrontations in the Sandton area. No injuries were reported.

Uber spokesman Samantha Allenberg confirmed that one of the cars was registered to use the Uber app.

AFP reporters saw shells of the burnt vehicles, two just metres from a train station and another one in front of a five-star hotel in the wealthy financial district of Johannesburg.

"We suspect it is the ongoing fight between Uber and metered taxis in the area," said Mr Masondo. He denied local media reports that police fired stun grenades to disperse groups of rival drivers.

Taxi drivers have regularly targeted Uber drivers in Johannesburg, where they compete for passengers. They accuse Uber of stealing business and competing unfairly due to low fares.

The Uber car-hailing app service is hugely popular in the city, where public transport is poor and taxi drivers previously enjoyed a monopoly.