Francois Petousis (left) and David Gluckman

Cape Town - Every year shack fires cause devastation killing scores of people. A fire-detection device for shacks which has earned a UCT team an international award, may help prevent some of these.


The project called Khusela won the People’s Choice Award at the Global Social Venture Competition, which was held at the University of Californina, Berkeley, in the US.

It was also named as one of the top five initiatives worldwide.

David Gluckman, Khusela’s director of finance and operations, said the heat-detecting device could be placed in an informal dwelling and once it had registered a fire, it would “ring”.

He said it would also serve as an early warning system as the device would be able to communicate with devices up to 100m away.

“It will be ready for sale and roll out from October.”

The device was expected to cost R85 and have a three-year battery life.

According to its website the Global Social Venture Competition “provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and $50 000 (R518 000) in prizes to transform their ideas into businesses that will have positive real world impact”.

Khusela co-founder Francois Petousis said being a part of the competition had been inspiring.

“All these people are devoting their lives to discovering how we can create a world where you get paid to do good, where business can function to support that which really matters and makes a difference to humans.

“The ethos is of support and collaboration, because at the core everyone is there to serve a bigger purpose than their own.”

Khusela was based on Petousis’s honours thesis.

The other team members were Samuel Ginsberg, Emily Vining, Max Basler and Paul Mesarcik. - Cape Argus

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