App for rape survivors in Diepsloot closes down

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A cell phone App that helped many survivors of gender-based violence living in Diepsloot to access police, counseling and temporary shelter is closing down on 31 July due to a lack of funding.

The Vimba! helpline assisted hundreds of people to access help by dialing a number from a cell phone. The App was launched as part of a data journalism project of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism at the Mail and Guardian.

The App was launched in partnership with the Diepsloot rape counseling center, The Green Door, Sonke Gender Justice, Lawyers Against Abuse (LvA), Afrika Tikkun and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

Vimba! provided information via SMS about where to access rape counseling services and support in Diepsloot to over 2 000 callers since December 2016.

Bhekisisa editor Mia Malan said, “We’re sad to see Vimba! come to an end, but we’re proud that Bhekisisa had the opportunity to make a difference in Diepsloot. Vimba! was never intended as a project without an end; it was part of a time-bound data journalism project through which we wanted to not only help people access services but also wanted to collect valuable data about when, from which extensions and how people in Diepsloot access counselling services. Organisations addressing gender-based violence will be able to use this information to better target their services.