Metered taxis deny involvement in death of Taxify driver

The Meter Taxi Council has denied allegations that its members were involved in the kidnapping and murder of a Taxify driver.

On Friday, police found the charred remains of Tshwane University of Technology student Siyabonga Ngcobo in Sunnyside, Pretoria. Ngcobo was moonlighting as a driver in addition to running his own business.

Ngcobo’s death is part of a spate of attacks on drivers in Gauteng. On Friday, two metered taxis were reportedly torched hours after the discovery of Ngcobo’s body. In a separate incident, another driver in Johannesburg was murdered in what is believed to be an escalating fight for customers between ride-hailing businesses.

Taxify’s country manager Gareth Taylor has said that last week’s event “was the first and only one this year” but that his division would be involved with the police to “ensure that the case is thoroughly investigated.”

The Meter Taxis Council’s Oupa Skosana claims the killings are the result of the competition between Uber and Taxify drivers and has called on Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to have the matter resolved.

However, representatives of Uber and Taxify have denied that fighting between the two organisations led to the death of Ngcobo, accusing Skosana of making assumptions.

According to Uber’s communication department, “The only intimidation and violence has been from metered taxi drivers which has been witnessed over the years — there are multiple cases with the police which they announced last year.”

“This is a serious matter as bodies are piling up. We need to sit down and find a solution, as we did with the ex-minister,” Skosana told Eye Witness News (EWN).

Speaking to EWN, the transport department’s spokesperson Collen Msibi said the department is addressing the matter and has amended an act “to ensure that Uber and Taxify are not seen as exclusive services”.

In a statement, the department issued their condolences and condemned the attack as an “inhumane deed”, asking the police force to leave no stone unturned.

The chairperson of Pretoria Uber and Taxify representatives, Chris Ravhuhali, told Pretoria News that the agencies were “not violent people and are not people who will retaliate” and asked that law enforcement agencies protect them from meter taxi drivers.

“Our drivers are constantly being attacked and killed, but there are three police stations in this area – Sunnyside, Brooklyn and Pretoria Central. Violent metered drivers are walking all over us as if there are no police officers around,” Ravhuhali said.

Ngcobo had recently started working for the ride-hailing agency before being discovered in a boot of a burnt out Chevrolet Aveo.

His uncle, Melusi Mbonambi, says the attackers made the passengers get out of the vehicle and pushed his nephew into the boot.

“According to the passengers, they ordered him to get out, they asked him to open the boot and they put him inside and they burnt the car with him inside.”

No arrests have been made yet and Taxify has started to implement measures to keep its drivers safe.

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