Empowering personal security through the power of community

Ntsako Mgiba H’20, a Mechatronics Engineer from the University of Cape Town, was visiting his aunt in Empucukweni, a township in Mpumalanga when her house was one of six broken into in one night. Mgiba lost his cellphone and laptop, but his aunt and her neighbours lost nearly all of their hard-earned possessions. The incident was a harsh lesson on community vulnerability to crime, especially for those who struggle to afford high-tech security systems, electric fencing, burglar bars and 24-hour armed response. The thought remained with Mgiba that the situation might have been different had there been some way of notifying neighbours when the first robbery had taken place. He believed that they were only vulnerable because they were not connected to their neighbours. This traumatic experience highlighted for him how disconnected the community had become. It was the impetus he needed to develop a relevant and accessible solution that would fill the hole left by security teams and police, and provide people with a tool that would allow them to increase their security while fostering a deeper sense of community.

“Historically, household security has been handled by communities. But, as communities are being divided by wealth, additional security measures tend to isolate people. We imagine an Africa that returns to its roots of communities looking after themselves by working together.”

Protecting communities regardless of their financial means

THE CHALLENGE: Residential burglaries account for 52.9% of all reported criminal activity in SA and plague homeowners and small business owners who live and operate in townships. Township residents are most vulnerable to break-ins because the majority cannot afford traditional security systems. Moreover, relying on the police is not adequate as they are under-resourced and unable to respond to incidents timeously. Township communities are extremely vulnerable to crime, but ironically they’re underserved. Traditional security companies have failed to enter townships due to poor customer knowledge and excessively high pricing. Mgiba saw an opportunity to provide an affordable, yet effective community-based solution that connects homeowners to their caring community in emergency situations. His vision is that all communities should feel safe, regardless of their financial means, and wants to be the standard for security in communities.

THE PROCESS:  Mgiba leveraged his skills and passion for communities and in 2015 started Jonga, which in isiXhosa means ‘to watch/look’. Jonga is a wireless, battery-powered motion sensor with a six-month battery life and a 100-decibel siren with an Android app that sends text messages to five pre-selected contacts when the alarm is triggered. Instead of relying on expensive armed response providers, Jonga relies on the townships’ close-knit communities, while integration with the Namola security app enables a link to emergency services. The sensor is fitted on a wall/ceiling in the zone of interest (12m range) and is remotely controlled via the app. When the device is armed it passively monitors the room for motion. Multiple alarms can be linked together on the app, meaning whole communities can keep an eye on each other’s homes. Key to its success is a long-lasting alarm that has a life of 7 months on a single charge via a micro-USB cable. A Jonga motion sensor device costs R499 for the first device with a reducing sliding scale as more devices are purchased for a household. There is also a monthly subscription fee of R80 for the service, which covers the app, SMSs that are sent when emergencies are reported and maintenance and support. Jonga is Sigfox certified, which means that communication from the device to a customer’s smartphone is secure, uninterrupted and cannot be jammed.


THE RESULTS: Jonga has sold 630 security systems since February 2020 with 170 of these already activated. The balance is scheduled to be activated by B2B customers by mid-2021. They have also created employment opportunities through Jonga agents who sign up homes onto a Jonga community WhatsApp group. Schools in vulnerable communities across the country experienced heightened levels of break-ins and vandalism during lockdown. Jonga started providing the community with alarms as an affordable solution for two schools in Khayelitsha with a view to expanding this initiative. In August 2020, Jonga teamed up with Coca Cola to install their devices in its ‘Bizniz in a Box’ shipping containers nationwide. They have also partnered with Shopit, a platform that enables a network of 6 000 informal traders to order and receive stock on their doorstep. Jonga was featured in the UK Guardian in September 2020.


Jonga is an easy-to-install home alarm system that connects you to your community in times of emergency. 

Combining his knowledge and love for people to provide a solution for marginalized communities


Mgiba is a BSc Mechatronics Engineer from the University of Cape Town. In 2018, he was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Foundation scholarship and is currently completing a Masters in Information Technology at the University of Cape Town. He founded Jonga in 2015 where he is the CEO.


Jonga was the 2016 Winner of the African leg of Global Social Venture Competition and the Winner of UCT Upstarts, a start-up competition. In 2017, they won the Standard Bank Be Bold start-up competition, the 2017 Santam Safety Ideas, and was in the top five for Diageo Social Tech. They also won the 2017 Security Challenge start-up competition and the UCT Flux Entrepreneurship Business Game. In 2018, Mgiba was recognized as one of South Africa’s eminent 200 youth that is destined to make a mark in the world by Mail & Guardian.  


Ntsako Mgiba views Harambe as a significant opportunity for personal growth and development as a leader and social entrepreneur.

“I believe that relationships formed within the Alliance are lifelong because they’re fueled by a common desire and commitment to building Africa for ourselves and for future generations. I am part of a community of brilliant individuals who play their part in achieving that goal and showing others that it is possible if we work together as Africans.”

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