• After being affected by crime, Thuli Mthwethwa founded a tech-based social startup that provides vulnerable communities with affordable alarm systems.
  • MeMeZa's products range from an easy-to-carry personal alarm to a GPS tracker in the form of a necklace.
  • It now plans to use R3.5 million in new investment funding from Google to expand from its base in Diepsloot north of Johannesburg to Soshanguve, outside Pretoria.

Thuli Mthethwa and Elmarie Pereira each got fed up by crime after being affected in different ways – and deciding enough was enough. They are now partners in MeMeZa Shout Crime Prevention, a tech-heavy social startup aimed at providing communities terrorised by crime with low-cost and innovative security systems.

The initiative recently landed $250,000 (about R3.5 million) in investment funding from Google South Africa, one of four such startups deemed to have the ability to change lives.

google impact challenge
COO of Memeza, Elmarie Pereira (Far-right) and CEO, Thuli Mthwethwa (Second-left from the right) with one of the Google Impact Challenge judges, philanthropist and humanitarian Yvonne Chaka-Chaka. (Google)

These are some of MeMeZa's products aimed at helping poor communities defend themselves against crime.

The MeMeZa Personal Alarm: R89


The personal alarm is specially targeted at vulnerable women, and is easy to carry as a part of a key ring. It features a flashlights – and an alarm that makes 140 decibels worth of noise, which is louder than a jet engine at takeoff. 

That extremely loud sound acts as a deterrent with the potential to "confuse, scare and disable the criminal immediately," says MeMeZa.

The "pendant tracker": R790

google impact challenge
(Photo by Eduardo Dorantes on Unsplash)

These necklaces have hidden slots for micro SIM cards, and GPS trackers. When activated, a person wearing one can be tracked down using a simple mobile app.

A community alarm system: R2,300

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Memeza's community alarm system features an outdoor siren and alarm, remote controller, motion-detection sensor with a panic button that sends alerts to community members and the police. (Memeza)

This particular product was first rolled out in Diepsloot, a settlement north of Johannesburg with a serious problem of crime in 2014. When the motion detector is triggered, a linked cellphone system sends a message to the community policing forum, the police, other members of the community. An outdoor siren and alarm also go off, flashing a red light of distress that can be seen by anyone outside the premises.

Lipstick pepper spray: R60

google impact challenge
(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

MeMeZa offers women 20ml of pepper spray disguised as lipstick.

"The non-lethal spray blurs vision, burning eyes and chokes the attacker," the company says.

Mthethwa and Pereira tell Business Insider South Africa they intend to use the R3.5 million from Google to expand to another crime-ridden community: Soshanguve north of Pretoria.

Now readThis SA start-up that automatically matches learners with universities just landed R3.5 million from Google

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