By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - A violent protest broke out Friday in Johannesburg against the American online taxi service Uber, leaving three police officers injured and vehicles damaged.
Johannesburg Metro Police spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane told Anadolu Agency the clashes broke out after local metered taxi drivers saw Uber operators driving past the busy Sandton train station.
“They started throwing stones at the Uber drivers, injuring one and damaging two vehicles,” Mamonyane said.
She said when police officers arrived at the scene, rowdy metered taxi operators continued to hurl stones, injuring three police officers and damaging their official vehicles.
“Our officer fired warning shots, but the metered taxi drivers continued throwing stones,” she said.
Uber issued a short statement saying they were aware of the intimidation of their operators and are taking all necessary steps to resolve the issue.
“Metered taxi operators always stone our vehicles. We are working under a real threat,” one Uber driver told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.
There have been increasing protests against Uber drivers in South Africa, whom local operators accuse of charging low prices which are driving them out of business.
Last week, dozens of metered taxi drivers protested outside the offices of the Gauteng Department of Transport after it announced it will register and license Uber drivers to ensure they operate legally.
“We want Uber out South Africa. They are taking our business,” 58-year-old Johannesburg metered taxi driver Bra Moris told Anadolu Agency.