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A new and innovative small key ring, is the latest personal safety alarm, that can save a person’s life. By simply pulling on the lanyard, an oscillating sound of 140 decibels is emitted.

The Memeza Women Empowerment Project developed the key ring that is a loud personal safety alarm as well as a household community safety alarm.

During the launch on Tuesday, Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said Gauteng women are to feel safe with the creation of the new personal alarm.

“This will make Gauteng women feel safe. Crime affects all of us but what is on the increase is the violence against women and children.

“We hope with this gadget we will see more women being protected. It’s a beautiful device,” said the MEC.

The device was developed by Memeza director Thuli Mthethwa, after her family was attacked in their home in Tembisa.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Mthethwa said the initiative was about empowering police in the help against crime.

The alarm was also a tool to give a voice to the community and would be victims. It was also about uniting a community and strengthening ties with Community Policing Forums so that the community can better drive out crime.

“Studies show that criminals are more afraid of crime prevention measures at community levels and not prosecution measures at state level. Thus they more afraid of bull dogs, of terrier dogs, they more afraid of burglar alarms than the promise of a lengthy prison sentence,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa appealed to government to increase crime prevention at community level, taking the alarms to the people.

She also appealed to the corporate world to increase social responsible budgets aimed at crime prevention. Currently only 2% of corporate social responsibility budgets are allocated to crime fighting initiatives.

“If you teach a woman, you teach a nation and through Mthethwa’s innovation, we’ll see women feel safer. We also hope that people won’t abuse the device,” said MEC Mazibuko.

Major General Oswald Reddy, who is the commander of the Honeydew Cluster SAPS, expressed his confidence in the alarm, saying that although alarms are nothing new, such a device is of help to vulnerable communities as they are targeted by criminals.

“This initiative I support 100%, it’s something that can work on the street. It won’t solve all crime problems but it draws attention of the community,” he said.

The project has distributed 10 000 personal alarm devices to disadvantaged learners and community members over the course of last month. The devices have been distributed to women and children in Diepsloot, Soshanguve and Ebony Park, among others.

Household community alarm

Another alarm developed by Memeza is the household community alarm that has several features in that it’s the first pay as you go alarm system with airtime pooling to reduce monthly airtime costs for its owner.

The device has a long battery life making it usable to people in rural areas as well. It can be charged via solar energy at local community centres. The alarm system is cellphone enabled.

This community alarm emits a three phased siren to alert the community of intrusions with the affected house being easily identifiable by a flashing red light and an alert SMSs being sent to the cell phones of the local sector police and community crime initiatives as well as pre-selected family, neighbours and friends.

The alarm and its back end system are being finalised with testing since January.

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Mxolisi Xayiya and MEC Mazibuko commended the work done by Mthethwa and the Innovation Hub.

Memeza is one of the 54 entrepreneurs in the Maxum Programme at the Innovation Hub, which is Africa’s first accredited Science and Technology Park. Its an entrepreneurship intervention designed to accelerate the growth of innovative knowledge.

MEC Xayiya said the department supported the initiative. “Such an innovation for us is critical because it deals with a core challenge in our society. Any product that comes to the fore must assist us in changing the anomalies that we find in our societies,” he said. –