The power of the Internet has changed the face of charity auctions, with the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) due to benefit from an online auction of the hottest property in the technology industry - including Mark Shuttleworth.

That's right... the computer-whiz-cum-Afronaut himself will be on auction and the winning bidder will be able to take him to lunch.

The auction is being organised by a leading computer magazine and has received donations of great gadgets, ranging from bluetooth cellphone headsets and digital cameras to printers, projectors, games and DVD drives.

The magazine's editor, Tamsin Mackay, said that every Christmas the magazine had a bumper edition in which it offered product giveaways on "practically every page".

She said: "This year we decided that we'll take all the products and have an auction rather and give the proceeds to Cansa."

All the products will start at a price of R1 and move from there.

Mackay emphasised that the auction organisers were honoured to have secured Mark Shuttleworth's involvement.

"In another auction, people spent up to R15 000 just to have lunch with Shuttleworth," she said.

Mackay said the retail value of all 50 products amounted to R150 000 and the organisers were hoping to make about R100 000.

She said they chose to go online with the auction because they were a PC magazine and it was so much easier to conduct the proceedings online, which would allow the auction to last for six days, 24 hours a day.

The auction begins on Monday and will end next Saturday. Bidders are reached by email. They visit the site and view all the products and then place their bids.

Throughout the day they will be updated on whether their bid still stands or has been surpassed by a rival bid. This process will continue until the close of bidding next Saturday.

All the products had been donated by a courier company, so the buyers had no other charges to worry about, she said.

Franco du Plessis of Cansa said he was very excited with the idea and welcomed the new approach to raising funds for charity.

"This is the first time that we have ever been part of an online auction," he said.

  • Budding bidders can visit www.bidorbuy.co.za to view products and place their bids from Monday onwards.