Uber wars rage on
Court gives metered taxi drivers slap on wrist Court told of fear, loathing at SABC
THE 15 metered taxi operators charged with public disorder after police fired several stun grenades and stormed an illegal gathering on Thursday were released on a warning after appearing in court, and will be back in court again on Tuesday.
Violence broke out when taxi operators protested against the presence of the taxi service Uber in the the city. Uber, widely perceived as one of the safest options available, has come under fierce attack from metered taxi operators, who said they would “burn Uber down” because the service was making it impossible for them to make a decent living.
Responding to the threats, Uber said yesterday it was “working with all relevant stakeholders to resolve this as a matter of urgency”. Uber was “deeply committed to the safety of riders and drivers”.
At issue is Uber’s tariff structure. The cheaper Uber rates have enraged many established industry players who allege Uber is receiving special treatment.
Many of these grievances were discussed at a meeting of metered taxi operators on Thursday, where they took a decision to “cause maximum k*k in the city” and to attack Uber vehicles and their operators.
The meeting in a parking lot in District Six was attended by more than 100 operators. The meeting resolved that metered taxi operators would prevent Uber vehicles from loading passengers, taking away the keys of any drivers operating under the Uber banner.
“Uber is like a snake and we must cut off the head of the snake. Violence is the only way to solve the problem and this was the solution in London and in Paris where they burnt Uber cars and it worked,” a metered taxi driver said.
Earlier, the group had heard from David Drummond, spokesman for the metered taxi industry interim committee, who said they had met provincial transport and public works MEC Donald Grant four weeks ago to discuss their concerns.
“At that meeting Donald Grant listened and we thought he was sincere and he said we would get a reply in two weeks. But it has now been four weeks and we have not heard from him,” Drummond said.
He said the metered taxi industry had approached the public protector to investigate collusion between Uber and government officials.
On Thursday the operators also blocked the entrance to Grant’s offices, demanding he come out and address them.
One of the frightened Uber drivers who jumped out of his vehicle in the chaos on Thursday said he was very concerned at what was happening.
“This is now dangerous for everybody, even for passengers,” he said.
Derick Onganisie, an Uber partner since 2013, said they had warned “this kind of thing would happen if the government does not urgently step in to address all the issues with all the relevant players”.
“Now you see it clearly, that we who are on the front line are getting attacked in what could well become an all-out war,” he said, adding part of the problem was there was no clear and definitive policy regulating tariffs, routes, permits and penalties for Uber.
Uber has maintained its activities are above board and it has fully engaged the relevant authorities.
“Policymakers have embraced our technology and provided much needed clarity on how driver- partners should be licensed, which has been very useful,” said Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg.
email@example.com TIDES High today . . .12.43am, 1.25pm Tomorrow . . . . .1.27am, 2.03pm Low today . . . . .7.11am, 7.22pm Tomorrow . . . . .7.50am, 8.02pm Spring tides . . . . . . . . . . .July 20
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 2 Neap Tides . . . . . . . . . . .July 27
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 10 SUN/MOON Sunrise today . . . . . . . . . .7.49am Sunset today . . . . . . . . .5.55pm Moon rises today . . . . . .3.13pm Moon sets tomorrow . . . .4.25am THE SABC ban on footage of violent protests and crackdown on journalists who questioned it has resulted in a “culture of fear and silence” in the newsroom, which effectively prevents the public broadcaster from reporting accurately on the situation in the country.
That’s the argument presented in court papers to the Constitutional Court by eight journalists facing dismissal, who say policy is so vague and interpretations of it by management so contradictory that journalists and editors are no longer sure what they can cover.
This resulted in a “farcical” situation where journalists feared losing their jobs simply for doing their jobs.
The policy had also been used to prevent coverage, not only of protests involving violence or destruction of public property, but also peaceful protests and even criticism of the policy itself, the eight say.
“It is quite clear from the implementation of the protest policy, the journalists’ response and criticism thereto and the disciplinary actions taken against the journalists that the SABC is currently engaging in a full-scale operation to capture and control the predominant source of current affairs and news information in South Africa,” SABC economics editor Thandeka Gqubule wrote in an affidavit on behalf of the eight, three of whom were suspended and the others slapped with disciplinary charges after questioning the policy.
The affidavit forms part of an urgent application lodged in the Constitutional Court yesterday seeking direct access to the court and for the policy, suspension of and disciplinary action against the journalists to be set aside.
The SABC also faces a Tuesday deadline to respond to an Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ruling that the policy must be reversed, as well as a High Court application by the Helen Suzman Foundation for the policy to be reviewed and set aside.
The policy has been widely condemned as censorship but a defiant SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has vowed to fight attempts to reverse it all the way to the Constitutional Court.
This, Gqubule argues, shows it would take years to reach finality in the matter and for the public and journalists to get relief should the court not grant direct access, which it usually does only in exceptional circumstances in a matter involving a constitutional principle.
The SABC has been given until Monday to give notice if it intends to oppose the application.
is engaged in a full-scale operation to capture... the source of
Uber head of communications Joseph Munzvenga tells a police officer drivers’ concerns at Uber offices at The Foundry in Green Point.