Stun grenades go off in Cape Town in Uber clash

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Police threw stun grenades and made arrests as a protest by meter taxi cab drivers turned violent in Cape Town’s city centre on Thursday.

“Uber must go‚” the drivers chanted as police arrived to defuse the situation after an Uber vehicle had its windows smashed out.

Sunday Times photographer Esa Alexander said that stun grenades were thrown to separate the drivers.

Uber spokesman Samantha Allenberg was not immediately available for comment.

The action was captured by several people on social media.

Sean Jacobs ‏posted a photograph of the chaos on Twitter‚ saying: “Long Street at a standstill. “Uber must go” they say. #CapeTown #traffic #LongStreet”.

Deidre Sara Vermaak posted a photograph of a white vehicle with its windows smashed‚ saying: “Uber car smashed up #ubermustfall”.

Hlanga Jordan said‚ “Cab drivers on long street protesting that @Uber_RSA ‘must go’.”

@MyNameIsAnthea tweeted: “#UberMustFall strike happening in Cape Town. Can they leave #Uber alone please? We like Uber. We shall Uber. How about you drop your prices.”

Meanwhile‚ Uber drivers are increasingly flagging their own concerns about the way the company operates.

About 500 Uber drivers in Cape Town have also joined the South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) in a bid to institute legal action against Uber.

Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said: “The drivers have requested Satawu’s assistance as they are unhappy with their working conditions. The drivers say the rates Uber is charging are too low‚ as low as R7 per km at times. These are not competitive rates and the drivers are not getting much out of it. They also complain that Uber is able to kick drivers off the system without consultation if their rating falls below a certain level. This is obviously tantamount to dismissal if one’s only occupation is driving an Uber.”

Sabela said the union has referred the matter to its legal team. “We will be guided by what our lawyers say‚” she said.

Dozens of Uber taxi drivers also marched in Cape Town’s city centre on Tuesday demanding an end to the new cash payment option made available to passengers‚ according a report in the Cape Argus. Drivers are concerned it puts them at risk‚ especially after an Uber driver was attacked in Manenberg last week and his vehicle set alight. The driver is in a coma.

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