Gosai, also from Durban, was among the 180,000 people who downloaded Zello following Zuma’s arrest. Users subscribe to channels to talk to each other, sending live audio dio files that are accessible to anyone listening to the channel.

Zello was originally created to help people communicate and organize after natural disasters. With a Wi-Fi or data connection, people can use its location in the event of a hurricane, flood or other emergency to broadcast, share tips and communicate with rescuers or survivors. U.S. In, Zello found traction in the 2017 Hurricane Harvey rescue effort. The app is also used by taxi drivers, ambulance workers and delivery workers who want to send hands-free voice messages, says Raphael Varris, vice president of operations at Zello. Because Zello is a v-is-first platform, it is faster than typing and lacks literacy skills.

But recent events suggest that Zello is increasingly being used to connect people, even in troubled areas. In the hours of the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, downloads dropped 100 times their normal rate. And Cuba also saw an increase in downloads in protest of food and drug shortages. Surprisingly, this development has led some countries to suggest banning the application, including China, Venezuela and Syria.

Without an emergency response system such as the US 911, South Africans are increasingly turning to Zello for coordination of Ze d-ambulances and neighborhood patrols. A channel called the South Africa Community Action Network, with more than 33,000 non-paying members, supports 11,600 paying members who donate to emergency services such as ambulances, according to a blog post on the site.