An Uber driver whose car was set alight in Pretoria in June died on Monday in hospital. A petrol bomb was thrown at Lindelani Mashau's vehicle near Loftus stadium while he was on duty.
Uber driver Theresa Manchick says violence against drivers has been an ongoing problem since the service started in South Africa in 2013. "For months we've been saying this is a crisis but little is being done about it," she said.
Uber and Taxify drivers have resorted to creating an online petition which 1,800 people signed against the violence drivers face on a daily basis. Manchick has urged the public to support the Uber drivers by signing the petition.
"We are desperately calling on the public, because if we get public support it will help escalate the issue," she said.
Uber launched their hailing service in South Africa in 2013, attracting thousands of people to their application. Their affordable prices and unique convenience led to the service's popularity among South Africans in major cities. However, the glory was short lived as metered taxi drivers started attacking Uber drivers, saying that their low prices were unfair.
Numerous reports of attacks by metered taxi drivers on Uber drivers have seemingly fallen on deaf ears by the company, some drivers claim.
"The problem is that we are not safe‚ Uber does not care about our safety‚ they are doing nothing even though they are aware of the criminality directed at the drivers." said Zweli Ngwenya‚ a spokesperson for the Uber drivers, told BusinessLive in June.
Samantha Allenberg, Uber Africa Spokesperson, said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family during this difficult time and we will continue to offer our support. We are assisting the police in their investigation in every way possible."
Uber said it had requested urgent meetings with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi, and its security teams would provide extra support around stations.
Transport manager Joe Maswanganyi said that he now wants Uber drivers to apply for public transport licenses in line with legislation, as agreed to at a transport conference last week. Maswanganyi said if Uber drivers failed to do so, they would be taken off the roads.
In late June, metered taxi drivers took to the streets.