A handful of Uber Johannesburg (both Uber X and Uber Black) drivers have confirmed to iAfrikan that they believe they have been specifically targeted by Johannesburg Metro Police (with passengers in their cars) who have stopped them for up to half an hour and questioned them regarding their permits.
Johannesburg was the first African city in which Uber launched its services in 2013, starting with Uber Black and only launching Uber X in August 2014.
The service initially launched as a test and soon gained momentum among Jozi residents.
Uber has also been seen as a great innovation and providing some much needed disruption in the cab industry given that it's pricing is transparent, cabs can be hailed and tracked from its app as well as providing a great end to end user experience for customers.
But Uber has also experienced some negative disruption around the world. In both Europe and North America, there have been reports of various people involved with law enforcement targeting Uber Drivers in the respective countries and accusing them of operating illegally or without the proper insurance.
Not only have police targeted Uber drivers but in the case of Germany, the Uber app was banned for a period of time by a Frankfurt court but later re-instated.
Where's Your Permit?
In Johannesburg, the Uber drivers seem to be facing an alleged plot by both police and some non-Uber cab drivers.
One of the cab drivers speaking to iAfrikan on condition of anonymity mentioned that he was stopped for more than 30 minutes whilst transporting a customer by a Johannesburg Metro Police Cop whose first words to him were
"Where's your permit?"
Despite the Uber driver driving an unmarked cab with only one passenger, somehow the Johannesburg Metro Police cop was able to identify this Uber driver (and a handful of others).
The driver says that,
"I believe the cops are being tipped off by other jealous non-Uber drivers".
Despite being a frustrating experience for the drivers and even more frustrating and costly for their customers, the drivers allege that on every occassion that they had been stopped, they were neither fined nor found to have transgressed any laws. They further stated that they were able to produce their driving permits as required for public transport as well as the relevant insurance papers.
Uber in both Johannesburg and for Africa stated that they cannont comment on this at the moment. Similarly the Johannesburg Metro Police Department have indicated that without any specific details about the cops involved and drivers involved they cannot investigate or comment further.
It has also emerged, although only a handful of drivers couldn't comment on this, that an UberX driver in Johannesburg was in the last couple of weeks physically assaulted by non-Uber cab drivers who alluded to him it was because of them (Uber drivers) "stealing" their customers.
NB: This article was last updated on 09 December 2014. This is a developing story and we will continue to investigate and update it accordingly. Do let us know if you have any tips by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a message in the comments section below
Cover Image Credit: Uber