Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi has spoken out against a group of metered taxi drivers who assaulted him last week Monday during the department’s announcement that it would be licensing Uber operators.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that any party or parties that threaten violence [or] think they can intimidate any official of government, whether it is a political official or an administrative official, is totally unacceptable,” Vadi told reporters during a governance and planning cluster briefing at the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday.
“We condemn that kind of behaviour and we will not negotiate with people that adopt that kind of stance.”
Last week, Vadi addressed reporters at Diagonal Street building in central Johannesburg, announcing that Uber driver partners would get legally licensed by the department.
According to TimesLive, the group of men approached Vadi inside the building just as he was concluding the tour of the operating licences registration unit.
As Vadi stretched his hand to one of the men‚ the assault began, the report said.
He fell on the ground and more men joined the attack.
Need for peaceful climate
Security personnel who tried to come to Vadi’s aid were pushed aside as the angry men went on a rampage, the report said.
The men then reportedly asked Vadi “What are you doing here?” as they attacked him.
He then rose to his feet while trying to reason with them‚ but the men charged towards him again‚ forcing him to flee into a secure room that was immediately locked behind him, the report said.
On Tuesday Vadi said since the incident, members of the Gauteng Metered Taxi Association had contacted him to distance themselves from the violence. They also asked to meet with him, he said.
“Our doors are open and we will be meeting with them during the course of this week.”
Vadi said discussions into the contentious topic could only be held in a peaceful climate, with people who were willing to reason, “so that we can engage on the issues and get down to the key issues that might be challenging people, but violence and intimidation will not [work]”.
Since the announcement last Monday, the department had already started receiving applications from Uber driver partners, he added. They would soon undergo the system’s administrative process.