Jonga, a Cape Town start-up has come up with an ingenious way to make townships safer – by building an affordable smart alarm that sends notifications to communities on an app. Over 70 Jonga security systems are now in homes across Cape Town.

The idea was born in 2016, when Ntsako Mgiba, at the time a student at the University of Cape Town, was visiting his aunt in Empucukweni, a suburb near Emalahleni, in Mapumalanga. “On the first evening we visited her, our house was broken into. And we only realised the next day that our house was one of six broken into,” Mgiba told Business Insider south Africa.

The incident was a harsh lesson on community vulnerability to crime, especially for those who struggle to afford the expenses of high-tech security systems, electric fencing, burglar bars and full-time 24-hour armed response units. “The thought remained with me that if there was only some way when the first robbery occurred, the rest of the neighbourhood had some way of being notified. I’d like to think that we were only so vulnerable because we were not connected with our neighbours,” said Mgiba.

From this traumatic experience Jonga, which in isiXhosa means “to watch”, was born.

Key to its success is a long-lasting alarm that has a life of 7 months on a single charge via a micro-USB cable, which will link multiple users on an app. Once triggered the sensor sends a notification to paired smartphones. The sensor itself is wireless and can be repositioned throughout the home. Multiple alarms can also be linked together on the app, meaning whole communities can keep an eye on each other’s homes.

Fast forward to 2020 and Jonga has rolled out their first 70 commercially available alarms.

The company, which is run with his business partner Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, says it’s destined for homes in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. By the end of the year their hope is to see this same device in 15,000 homes across the country. “We believe that a connected community is a protected community. What we’re trying to do is to encourage the community to look after one another, watch out for one another. That is the core offering, connected communities are protected communities”.

A device costs a once off of R600 and an additional monthly cost of R70 per month. For 2 devices it’s R120 per month and 3 and onward is R150. The monthly costs cover running the app, as well as the cost of sending out notifications.

This is an adaptation of an article entitled, “Two young entrepreneurs are building affordable smart alarms to make townships safer” on the Business Insider South Africa website.