South Africa has produced many exceptionally skilled and talented people over the years. In the 1960s, there was Dr Christian Barnard who performed the first successful heart transplant in the world. Then there was his laboratory assistant, Hamilton Naki who, although he had to leave school at the age of 14 to work as a labourer at UCT, became a laboratory assistant who honed the skills of student surgeons for many years.

More recently, we have seen the extraordinary success in the IT world of Mark Shuttleworth and the great Elon Musk. 

And now we have Simphiwe Radebe (17) who could possibly be our new Elon Musk.

Most South Africans are very kind people, and Elon Musk himself has said in an interview that love could solve the problems of the world and that his aim in life was to do something worthwhile for mankind. A man like that would be so pleased to know that a young South African has recently invented an app to keep women safe in these dangerous times. The app is called Help.

Simphiwe Radebe is a young man of 17 who has invented an app to keep young girls and women safe if faced with danger.

‘Seeing women not being safe during lockdown worried me,’ he said. 

He saw that women had to walk to and from their work every day, often in the dark. It worried him that they were so often the victims of violence or abduction. He knew that he had to use his knowledge to minimise these dangers.

Simphiwe Radebe, 17, inventor of the ‘Help’ app.

Every report of yet another girl being hurt or abducted, just made him more determined. 

He felt that there was no time to lose and set to work. Two days later he had worked out a plan!

Firstly, he designed the app to enable girls to press the panic button on their phones if danger threatened. But he worried about what could still go wrong. He imagined a woman approaching some men and having to take out the phone which might then alert them and make things worse. 

Imagining the situation

By putting himself into the position of a girl in danger like this, the idea of “speech to text” came to him. He then enabled the device to recognise the word HELP!” 


Saying “HELP!” will instantly activate a ‘help mode’.                                   Image Credit: Vladimir Vladimirov / Getty

Saying “HELP!” will instantly activate a ‘help mode’ which will call the primary contact on your phone. It will also send an SMS to your Emergency Contacts. 

What he really wanted to do as well, was send the last-known location to police stations.

He spent some time testing the app, and he found that the voice recognition worked really well, and so did the location information.

Google is looking into the possibility of making Help with the speech recognition available in the Google Play Store. 

So, here we have another really talented young South African doing his best to make the world a better and safer place. 

This is the third app from this skilled young man with a fertile imagination. The first, for use in schools, Diversity High School app, was developed with the ability to screen for COVID-19, amongst other things. The second, Healthify, tracks an ambulance when you have called one. It provides the location of the ambulance up to 40 kilometres away. In addition, it makes the phone numbers of the ambulance driver and the caller available to the two parties so that they can connect.

With the motivation of his passion for helping people, Simphiwe could well be on the path to great success in the IT world.

Simphiwe’s mother, Nomsa, says, #ImStaying because my son is doing what he loves and making me proud.”

#ImStaying congratulates you, Simphiwe Radebe. South Africa is so proud of you!

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