Khwezi app to help fight sexual abuse

Students Ngoako Monyebodi and Refilwe Semenya have created an app to combat sexual assault on Wits University's campuses.
Students Ngoako Monyebodi and Refilwe Semenya have created an app to combat sexual assault on Wits University's campuses.
Image: supplied

A mobile app to anonymously report sexual harassment and assault on Wits University campuses has been created by two students.

The two final-year electrical engineering students, Refilwe Semenya and Ngoako Monyebodi, chose to do their final-year project creating the app, named Khwezi, because of the high incidents of sexual assault cases in universities across the country.

The app allows the victim to report the incident and describe or name the offender. This will allow for the university to be able to identify hotspots and repeat offenders. "The name Khwezi was chosen by us and our professor because of her story. Everyone knows who Khwezi is," Semenya said.

Semenya, 22, said it was important for men to be a part of creating a space for women and girls to be safe.

Monyebodi, 23, added: "Men and boys must realise that there are other men who want to fight against this. We need to show women that there are men who care."

The young men said the app was created to respect the victim's privacy. "Some people do not feel comfortable to immediately report what happened to them. In this instance, they can be anonymous but the university can be aware this has happened," Semenya said.

Monyebodi said Khwezi would ensure students are able to access counselling from the gender equity office at Wits.

Wits gender equity office director Crystal Dicks said the app was a collaboration between the students and the office and would be implemented fully last year. The information received from the app will be kept anonymously by the office, and if or when the students decide to open a case and will assist to draft a statement.

First-year students who spoke to Sowetan on Monday responded positively to the app. Lesego Mashego, 19, said: "It will help us a lot. If it's anonymous then it will allow me to be brave because no one can judge me. Even if I won't lay a case, the university will be aware that this happened."

Kutlwanwo Malekutu, 20, said it would help to know where the hotspots for sexual assaults are to remain vigilant.

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