15 South African inventions we love

November 26, 2015, 6:14pm

By Louzel Lombard, Traveller24. Photo: lavidadelcesar12's instagram photo

Cape Town – SA is a unique country, to say the least.

This is why innovative South Africans through the years have come up with some interesting and unique inventions to make our lives better.

If one thing is clear, it is that South Africans can be pretty creative when it comes to problem solving.

These are our 15 Favourite (and most interesting) proudly South African inventions to date:

CAT Scans

The Computed Axial Tomography Scan or CAT was developed by Cape Town physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield.

Kreepy Krauly

This handy device was created by Ferdinand Chauvier from Springs in 1974 (it is used to clean pools)

APS Therapy

After obtaining approval from the health department and the US Food and Drug Administration, Gervan Lubbe formed the company Tech Pulse in 1993 to produce the world’s first Action Potential Stimulation device. The device was a breakthrough in pain relief.

Smartlock safety syringe

Smartlock safety syringes provide improved protection against needlestick injury and contamination by Ebola virus, Hepatitis and HIV. This invention has saved countless lives.


George Pratley invented Pratley’s Putty while trying to create glue that would hold components in an electrical box.


Q20 was invented in 1950 in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal by a Mr Robertson, as a product to displace water from the distributor caps on an old Volkwagen Beetle.


Create by Eric Merrifield, the dolos is used all over the world to break up wave action and protect harbour walls and coastal installations.

Shark Shield

Shark is a portable electronic device that emits an electromagnetic field and is used by scuba divers, spearfishing, ocean kayak fishing and surfers to repel sharks.

The Cybertracker

CyberTracker is software which was first developed as a way to allow illiterate animal trackers to communicate their environmental observations. It has since evolved to become a general purpose data capture and visualization system. However, it retains the ability to be used by illiterate and low-literate users.

The Speed Gun

Henri Johnson invented the Speedball in 1992. The device accurately measures the speed and angles of speeding objects such as cricket and tennis balls.

The Hippo Water roller

The Hippo Water Roller was invented by Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, who also won the 1997 South Africa Design for Development Award for their work. The Hippo Water Roller is specifically handy in developing countries where water should be collected from afar. The invention reduces physical effort and increases the amount of transportable water.


The Tellurometer was invented by Durban’s Trevor Lloyd Wadley in 1959. It measured distance by sending out an electronic wave, which a remote station absorbs and then re-sends back in a more complex form, measuring the distance the waves travelled.


Percy Tucker of Benoni invented Computicket - the world’s first complex computerized reservation system. Tucker’s vision went national in 1971, then soon after got picked up by international computer programmers.

Oil from Coal

Sasol is the world’s first – and largest – oil-from-coal refinery and it provides 40% of the South Africa’s fuel.

BMW Flamethrower

This is perhaps the most bizarre invention to come from a South African. In 1998 Charl Fourie designed a flame blazing torch to provide a defence against carjackings. The device wasn’t a big seller. Perhaps it was because Fourie said, "[The device] would definitely blind a person. He will never see again."

BONUS: Heart Transplant

We know it’s not technically an invention as much as it is a procedure. The world’s first heart transplant was first done performed by Doctor Chris Barnard in Grootte Schuur hospital in Cape Town on 3 December 1967.