- Title: The crime-fighting app that could ease South Africa's security woes
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF A PRIVATE SECURITY VEHICLE RACING TO AN EMERGENCY
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 11:27
- Keywords: South African crime-fighting app free emergency assistance Victims of Crime Survey
- Location: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
- City: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Crime
- Reuters ID: LVA002B2GH3KN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: South Africa ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world with recent statistics showing 2 million crimes recorded for 2019.
'Namola', a crime-fighting app, is trying to reduce those alarming statistics by offering 24-hour free emergency assistance at the push of a button on their smart devices.
In order to track users in danger, the Namola operators immediately call back to verify the details of the request and then dispatch the emergency help required. The app is linked to various emergency services such as private security personnel, ambulance services, fire departments and the police.
Lesedi Mahlangu who was held at gunpoint in her home a few months ago told Reuters that the Namola app was the reason she was not harmed.
"I pressed the emergency button on Namola, they responded and called really quickly. Even though I had to kind of like whisper, at least they got what happened and so we just kept on texting and then Namola just sent help. I think even more than two cars of cops came and they helped us and everything was sorted and the culprit was put behind bars," she said.
Mahlangu who downloaded the app during the height of femicide and gender-based violence also said she was impressed that the Namola operators managed to help her even though she could not verbally explain the danger.
"I asked, what happens in a situation when I can't talk to you guys, they were like 'no it's fine just answer the call and we will try pick up all the sounds in the background'. And I was like you know what, this is good, this is efficient especially now that if I press the panic button, my friends will know where I am and everyone else that I trust will get the location," she said.
According to Statistics SA's Victims of Crime Survey, over 1 million South African households experienced 1.5 million crime incidents in the last financial year.
Namola's CEO and founder, Peter Matthaei says that the app was mainly created to alleviate pressure placed on the country's emergency helpline while assisting those in need urgently.
"Historically getting emergency response in South Africa has been quite a challenge for various reasons. And you know, Namola we thought how do we create something that's super simple for all South Africans to be able to push a single button and get immediate response as fast as possible," Matthaei said.
He also added that the app deals with over 400 crime-related incidents a day and it is the major reason why the app exists.
Namola has over 350,000 users to date and offers users a physical panic button at a monthly fee of 79 rand (US$5.40).
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