Say No to Xenophobia: Cell Phones Against the South Africa Violence

Posted by KatrinVerclas on May 26, 2008

I am in South Africa this week as violence against immigrants broke out in townships all over the country. There are several initiatives that have now been launched to combat the violence -- using mobile phones.

In response to the violence against foreigners, the Western Cape Emergency Task Team with the leadership of Peter Benjamin of Cell-Life, has activated a national SMS emergency system for citizens to respond to the violence. The Task Team, a coalition of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and over 20 NGOs, has activated “NO TO XENOPHOBIA” SMS lines across South Africa.

Says Zackie Achmat of the TAC: “Everyone has a cell phone. South Africa, make your voice heard to counter the violence. Tell everyone that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”

There are four services for concerned South Africans:
TO SAY NO TO XENOPHOBIA: To show opposition to the attacks, send an SMS with your name and your location. For Vodacom users, send your name and location to 30060 (Cost: Freee), for MTN and Cell-C send to 38091 (Cost: 50c)

TO REPORT AN ATTACK, an SMS can be sent to 31864 with details. This is a continuously-staffed line that will route emergency reports to the authorities. (this is so far not coordinated with United for Africa - see below --, but should be.)

TO DONATE: Send SMS to 38871 to donate R10 for food and blankets. Receiving organization is TAC that will route the donations. (This service is for Western Cape only.)

FOR ORGANISATIONS: For organisations that want to contact their members or constituents, free bulk SMS services are offered. Please contact Peter Benjamin at Cell-Life ( or 082 829 3353).

Erik Hirshman from Ushahid, together with Tim Shiers from Quirk in South Africa, set up United For Africa to record incidences of violence. And maybe incidences of peace like the delegation from one of the Capetown townships that went to the refugee camp nearby last night to ask residents to come back with an assurance of safety and protection.

Thousand of South Africans have expressed their opposition to the violence in marches and have reached out to help in the last few days. It is ecouraging to see in dark times. South Africa belongs to all who live in it, as the Freedom charter states.

For other organizations to give to who stand against the violence and provide relief, see this list.

Photo credit Katrin Verclas, refugee camp in Capetown, South Africa.

Refugee camp in Capetown, South Africa

Thank you for letting me in.

I've been following you on Twitter all weekend, both on my computer and my cell, and continue today. Thank you for letting me know what is going on in such an intimate way. Cat Laine, from AIDG in the US, also posted this link for credit card donations.
Meg Kroeplin Amherst Massachusetts, USA

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