Police were on “high alert” in Sandton on Thursday evening after two vehicles, believed to be Uber taxis, were set alight near a Gautrain station, a spokesperson said.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said the two drivers escaped unharmed.
“According to the drivers, they were sitting in the cars when a group of men poured petrol into the vehicles and set them alight.”
Masondo was unable to say how many men were involved in the incident.
He said the situation “remained tense” after a group of Uber drivers retaliated.
“A few Uber drivers have headed towards meter taxis with stones in their hands. Police are on scene and monitoring the situation.”
One meter taxi was stoned in the process.
Stun grenades and rubber bullets were used to disperse a group of roughly 50 people, Masondo said.
No arrests have been made.
Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg told News24 that one of the vehicles was registered with the service.
They were investigating whether the second vehicle is also registered with Uber, Allenberg said.
“Any situation where driver safety is put at risk is absolutely unacceptable to us. That people are choosing violence and threats against those bringing choice in transportation is completely unacceptable.
South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said the violence was sparked over “unequal competition” from Uber.
“The government issues permits to Uber drivers while they are operating on the same routes we are operating on. Government can’t issue permits for existing routes,” Molelekwa said.
“Uber used to say it doesn’t matter because they are an app, but that excuse doesn’t work anymore.”
Molelekwa said while taxi operators are frustrated, it does not excuse any act of violence.
“We condemn any form of violence be it from the side of taxis or from the side of Uber drives. We cannot condone violence because the commuter will ultimately suffer.”
“We have to find a way to involve all parties without placing commuters in danger.”