It is similar to the shape of an egg but skinnier, doubles as a key ring and is dangerously loud.
Called the Memeza personal safety alarm, nearly 2 000 Diepsloot residents received one yesterday.
“Crime is a problem in our area and there are various issues relating to crime,” said the SAPS Major General Oswald Reddy.
One of the problems was that often cell phones were often first to be targeted which meant people could not contact the police . This had led to accusations that the police were not doing their job.
“Then, when the community finds the suspect, you know what happens in Diepsloot,” Reddy said. “There is mob justice.”
Reddy said that in search of solutions he approached Innovation Hub, which is linked to provincial government, about two years ago.
That was when the non-government organisation Memeza Community Safety stepped in to develop the device.
According to the NGO’s director, Thuli Mthethwa, it is one of the simplest and most effective and is operated by simply pulling on a lanyard.
The alarm emits an eardrum-shredding oscillating warble at 130 decibels.
A jet engine operates at 140db, according to www.gcaudio.com.
“We have been developing the system with the Innovation Hub for two years and it is a proudly South African product,” added Mthethwa.
The idea is that once the alarm is activated, neighbours are alerted that help is needed immediately.
Diepkloof Community Policing forum deputy chairman Nkukeng Legodi said it was a great idea and that the alarm would be distributed to the street patrollers as well.
“This will help us find a way to prevent crime,” said Legodi.
Not everyone was impressed though. Armstrong Nombaba, who calls himself a youth convener in the area, was shouted down when he disparaged the device.
Speaking to The Citizen afterwards, he said the whistle, was highly effective but he was worried about what a criminal might do to the user.
“The sound is too soft and the police must rather intensify CPF structures in the area,” he added.
By Amanda Watson