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South African cabbies scuffle with Uber rivals

A group of South African metred-taxi drivers clashed with their Uber rivals in Johannesburg on Monday as a provincial government launched a process to formally licence the car-hailing app service.

The handful of taxi drivers, some wearing yellow uniforms, confronted several Uber drivers who were leaving a meeting with a provincial minister of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg.

The provincial government said the fracas was caused by “extremely aggressive” cabbies, adding that Gauteng transport minister Ismail Vadi was hurried away from the scene.

An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the “disruption” of the meeting and said “we are relieved nobody was seriously injured”.

Vadi was launching a process to issue operating licences for Uber taxis.

Uber drivers in South Africa, and in many other countries, have faced threats from metred-taxi drivers who accuse them of stealing business and posing unfair competition due to low fares.

“We’re highly tired about Uber. We don’t want it in South Africa, they must close this app,” said Jabu Sepele, 43, adding Uber was “robbing us, it’s killing our business.”

The Gauteng government — which is in charge of the capital Pretoria and economic hub Johannesburg — vowed not to reverse its new licensing policy.

“We will not be deterred from building an integrated, affordable, and modernised transport system by any groups or individuals who want to use intimidation,” Gauteng premier David Makhura said in a statement.