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10 South African innovations and inventions that we can be proud of

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Sep 25, 2021


When we think the origin of inventions and innovations, the first country that comes to mind isn’t necessarily our own beautiful country. We all know that Dr Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant but there are number of inventions that we as South Africans can be proud of. Sure, South Africans didn’t invent the first car or telephone, but there were inventions and innovations that made life easier, helped save lives and put South Africa on the map.


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Sasol is the world's first oil-from-gas company and was founded on South African shores. It is also the country's largest fuel producer. It built on processes that were first developed by German chemists and engineer.


A Mr Robertson, hailing from Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, invented Q20 lubricant as many needed solutions to common household problems such as moisture displacement. Q20 is an all purpose lubricating spray that is owned by the Triton-Leo Group (Pty) Ltd. You might have some questions about the name, right? Well, according to Robertson, Q20 “has 20 answers to 20 questions".

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The CAT scan

The Computed Axial Tomography scan (CT scan), better known as the CAT scan, was invented by Allan MacLeod Cormack. He shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his associate Godfrey Hounsfield for his work on X-ray CT.

Smartlock safety syringe

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Staying in the medical field, a team at the Vaal University of Technology invented the smartlock safety syringe. This is a three-part single-use syringe that will be later used to reduce HIV infection rates in South Africa.

Retinal cryosurgery

South Africans really revolutionised the medical field as Dr Selig Percy Amoils unveiled the Amoils Cryo Pencil at Soweto’s Baragwanath Hospital. The Amoils Cryo Pencil is the world's first surgical tool that uses nitrous oxide to destroy unwanted tissue and was used to treat Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela’s eyes.

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The dolos is one of the most underrated but crucial inventions. The dolos is a concrete block weighing up to 20 tons in a complex geometric shape. It is used to protect harbour walls from the force of ocean waves.

Pratley's Putty

South African engineer George Montague Pratley, with the assistance of chemist Frank Robinson, invented Pratley's Putty to hold electrical box components together. It was later carried aboard the Apollo 11 Eagle landing craft.


Percy Tucker from Benoni in Gauteng founded our favourite go-to place for ticket needs. Computicket is the world's first computerised ticketing system.

Speed Gun

A speed gun is a device that measures the speed of cricket balls and was invented by Henri Johnson from Somerset West. It was used in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. Johnson also went on to invent the Speedball that measured the speed and angle of objects.

The Shark Shield

Inventor Lindsay Lyon and former World Surf Champion Tom Carroll invented the shark shield. This portable electronic device emits an electromagnetic field, and is used in scuba diving, spearfishing, ocean kayak fishing and surfing, to repel sharks.