Number blunder: Covid-19 helpline 'inundated' with calls from Vodacom customers

Glitch in '111' emergency number sees Vodacom clients directed to health call centre instead

27 July 2020 - 18:21 By Naledi Shange
Calls meant for Vodacom's customer care line have been ringing at the Covid-19 helpline.
Calls meant for Vodacom's customer care line have been ringing at the Covid-19 helpline.
Image: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

The government's Covid-19 health helpline was "inundated" with calls - not from people seeking medical advice but rather frustrated Vodacom clients trying to contact the mobile operator's call centre. 

The Covid-19 number 111 is also shared by Vodacom, leading to the unintended cross-calling.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) revealed the situation in a gazette on Monday. The document also rectified the situation.

“The authority [Icasa] published notice no. 244 on April 15 to harmonise and mandate the short code ‘111’ for Covid-19 national emergency services, in line with regulation 17 of the numbering plan regulations. It follows that the '111' short code is being used by Vodacom customers to access Vodacom’s customer care centres,” said Icasa in the document.

“Consequently, the national department of health advised that the Covid-19 health communications centres were inundated with calls made by Vodacom customers.”

As a result, 111 is no longer being used as the Covid-19 call number. Instead, any of the short codes 103, 104, 105, 106, 118 or 139 will now be used.


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