8 of the greatest South African inventions

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
8 of the greatest South African inventions

South Africans have developed a few awesome inventions. Some of them have made people’s lives infinitely easier; others have contributed to the prevention of diseases; some have even given people back their eyesight.

Seeming how April is Inventor’s Month, we thought we’d take a look at some of our country’s most innovative thinkers and how they’ve contributed to modern technology. Read about them below.

1. Kreepy Krauly

The lives of swimming pool owners was forever changed in 1974 when a refugee from the Belgian Congo who came to South Africa invented an automated pool cleaner, known as the Kreepy Krauly.[1] The machine was a hit immediately and is still used today to keep pools in good condition, thus minimising the need for home owners to claim on their house insurance.[2]

2. CAT Scan

CAT stands for computerised axial tomography. The technology was developed by Allan Cormack and Godfrey Hounsfield,[3] and they are typically used to pre-screen and prevent medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer.[4]

3. Retinal Cryoprobe

Staying with marvellous medical machines, Selig Percy Amoils, raised in Johannesburg, developed the retinal cryoprobe, which is an instrument used in cataract surgery. He received a Queen’s Award for Technological Innovation and his invention is on display in the Kensington Museum in London.[5]

4. Speed Gun

Part of what makes us South Africans is being near-obsessed with sport. Whether it’s cricket, rugby, football, tennis, or golf, we love our sport. So it’s no surprise that the technology for measuring the speed of moving objects like cricket and tennis balls was invented by a South African. Henri Johnson, a Somerset West resident at the time, is the person responsible for this invention that was first launched in 1999 at The Oval during the Cricket World Cup in England.[6]

5. Pratley Putty

It might seem like a small invention, but this one has even been to the moon; it was used to hold parts of the Apollo XI mission’s Eagle landing craft together. George Montague Pratley invented this glue that makes so many of our DIY projects so much easier while he was developing a glue that would hold the components of an electrical box together.

6. Dolosse

Eric Merrifield’s discovery is one that not everyone will have heard of, and it might seem quite obscure at first glance, but dolosse serve a vital function. They’re extremely large and irregularly-shaped concrete blocks that break up wave action to protect harbour walls. Some of them can weigh up to 30 tons and the largest one in Africa was built only a few years ago.[7]

7. Hippo Water Roller

This invention makes carrying water so much easier that is has literally changed lives. Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker created the Hippo Water Roller to make it easier for people living in rural areas without close access to clean water to transport it, which is a struggle for millions around the globe. The implications of this invention are far-reaching; not only does it make it easier for people to transport water, but it makes the activity much less time-consuming, which means that people have more time for other important activities such as education and food production.[8]

8. Oil from Coal

South Africa is rich in resources, but we don’t have crude oil reserves. It’s for this reason that Sasol was created – the world’s first and largest oil-from-coal refinery. The company produces 40% of South Africa’s fuel and has a long history of innovation.[9]


In typical South African fashion, at Dialdirect, we constantly find ways to make our customers’ lives easier with our innovative insurance products. So whether you need to get car insurance quotes online for the vehicle that runs on fuel from Sasol, or you need house insurance to cover the pool cleaned by your Kreepy Krauly, we make insurance easy.



[1] http://www.kreepykrauly.co.za/our-success/

[2] https://www.webafrica.co.za/blog/general-knowledge/groundbreaking-inventions-from-south-african-innovators/

[3] https://www.webafrica.co.za/blog/general-knowledge/groundbreaking-inventions-from-south-african-innovators/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CT_scan#Medical_use

[5] http://www.thesouthafrican.com/the-top-10-south-african-inventions/

[6] http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/component/content/article?id=116:south

[7] http://www.southafrica.info/business/trends/innovations/dolosse.htm#.VwZBJ_l97IU

[8] http://www.hipporoller.org/about/

[9] http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/component/content/article?id=116:south

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