MEDIA STATEMENT FROM CHILDLINE SOUTH AFRICA NATIONAL OFFICE: Issuing of the Short Code 116 to Childline South Africa – 17th April 2020

Childline South Africa is pleased to confirm the issuing of the 116 number to Childline South Africa as per Government Gazette: Republic of South Africa, NO 43230 dated 15 April 2020. As an organisation, we are exceptionally excited about this development as it will increase our reach to children and young people in South Africa. it is expanding our commitment and engagement within the African region by making sure every child in Africa is able to access a Helpline through this harmonised regional 116 number.

This 116 number will be ‘phased in’ from July 2020 wherein it will run parallel with the current 08 000 55 55 5 number until December 2020 when the 08000 55 55 5 number will be permanently withdrawn and the 116 will be the exclusive Childline number in South Africa.

This development is a major milestone for Childline and the Children of South Africa in a number of ways.
Firstly, 116 is a short number and very easy for children to remember. Although our 08000 55 55 5 has been with us for a number of years and many children have grown up with it and have used it in time of need, we know that at times, particularly during stressful moments, some children might have forgotten all the 10 digits and therefore not be able to get the help required.

Secondly, 116 is a regional number of all the Helplines in the African region. This means that if South African children were to find themselves in one of the African countries and in need of help, by dialling the same 116, they would be able to get through to a Helpline, receive the necessary support and be effectively linked with a Helpline back home should the need arise. The same will apply to children from other African Countries who might find themselves in need of a Helpline service in South Africa. Currently there are 22 countries with the 116 short code in Africa; South Africa is now number 23.

Thirdly, South Africa is part of a global community and through the issuing of this 116, we are joining forces with other countries in ensuring effective delivery of Child Protection Services to all children.

As outlined on the Government Gazette, from now until the end of June 2020 the network providers in South Africa will work closely with Childline South Africa, ICASA and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies to ensure that the 116 number is free on all mobile networks, the calls are correctly diverted to the province from which the child or concerned person will be calling and create the necessary awareness about the 116 number and its function.

The 116 number will be officially launched in July 2020. Both the 116 number and the 08000 55 55 5 number will function concurrently until December 2020 when the 08 000 55 55 5 number will cease to function and the 116 will be the only official number for Childline South Africa.

Childline South Africa would like to thank the Government of South Africa and ICASA for taking heed of the 2009 recommendations by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to consider a harmonized short code for Helplines for and about children. We also appreciate the Communications Regulatory Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) for its resolutions. Further appreciation is extended to the National Department of Social Development, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, Child Helpline International and the Helplines in the African region for supporting Childline South Africa in this process.

Thank you

Statement issued by
Dumisile Nala
National Executive Officer
Childline South Africa
Email: [email protected]