Reporting racism is now only a few taps away. This after the Zimele Racism Reporting App (Zirra), aimed at allowing citizens to report discriminatory incidents, was launched at Constitution Hill on Tuesday.
The pilot was introduced by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation a year ago and was endorsed by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) this week as part of a joint Human Rights Month commemoration.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation's Busisiwe Nkosi explained that the app was a way to use technology as a tool to win the war against racism.
Complaints received are assessed by the anti-racism organisation to determine their seriousness. Urgent matters are forwarded to the SAHRC, Nkosi explained, while less pressing grievances are referred for mediation.
Assistance is also provided for lodging Equality Court cases or laying charges at a police station.
The organisation visited schools and communities over the period of a year to test the app after the pilot was launched in 2018, Nkosi said. Suggested changes were implemented to make it more accessible and easier to use.
22 million South Africans have access to smartphones
Reporting a racist incident is simple, she explained.
Click on the "report" tab, and provide a description of what transpired with accompanying video, voice clips, PDFs or photos, if available.
Personal information will be requested, but those who don't want to leave a name and contact number don't have to.
Ahead of the launch, the SAHRC said the importance of the use of digital technology as part of the solution in the realisation and assertion of rights was being recognised.
In South Africa, about 22 million people have access to smartphones. The app would allow users to interact and educate themselves about their rights while providing a mechanism to assert these rights, the commission said.
"With increasing reports of racism and hate speech on the basis of race via social media, in public spaces and elsewhere, the commission and its partners in this initiative are concerned at the lack of regard for the protection of the basic human rights we are all guaranteed," SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said in a statement.
In 2016/2017, 705 incidents of infringement on the right to equality were reported to the SAHRC, according to its annual trends analysis report.
Complaints received specifically related to race comprised 69% of these, or 486.