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Reusable sanitary towels is set to improve the lives of millions of South African women

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is inviting public comments on a draft standard that sets the minimum requirements for the manufacture of washable, reusable sanitary towels for external use. The draft standard, South African National Standard (SANS) 1812 is currently available for comment until 25 September 2019. SANS 1812 is a new locally developed standard, which looks at reusable sanitary towels which is made of mainly cotton, can be washed, sun-dried and reused.

“Reusable sanitary towels that are manufactured to strict requirements will ensure that quality products are produced. The products are essential for indigent and underserved communities and contributes toward a better quality of life for girls and women. The specifications within the standard takes into account South African conditions and will result in quality, fit-for-purpose products that can be tested against a set of specifications,” says Roshelle Pillay, spokesperson for SABS.

Draft SANS 1812 was developed by Technical Committee (TC) 38, subcommittee 13, over a few months. The TC is made up of 22 industry experts and interested parties that include several national departments. The standard was developed in consultation, through consensus and according to the standards development process.

“In addition to reusable sanitary towels being an environmentally sustainable product, providing dignity to millions of girls and women, SANS 1812 is also expected to encourage the local manufacturing industry. Compliance to the standard will enable manufacturers to create products for local markets and for the region. Compliance to the product specifications can be measured through independent testing of the products and certification,” says Pillay.

Requests for the draft standard can be made via and comments can emailed to It is expected that SANS 1812 will be published as a standard by March 2020.


Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations;;0124286878, 0610300133

SABS to host the 42nd ISO General Assembly and ISO Week in South Africa

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is a founding member of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and will be hosting the annual ISO week from 16-20 September, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The week opens with the Developing Countries Council meetings from 17-18 September and proceeds to the 42nd ISO General Assembly scheduled for 19-20 September.

National Standardisation Bodies (NSBs) from 114 countries will be attending ISO week, with a total delegation of about 600 people expected. ISO is the international standard-setting body, formed in 1947 which has a catalogue of ISO standards in excess of 22500. SABS plays an important role in international standardisation and participates in 429 ISO committees, holds 10 secretariat and 11 chairperson roles.

The 2019 ISO week will focus on the theme ‘Vision 2030’ which aims to establish a framework for the new ISO strategy 2030. The week will also look at the United Nations sustainable development goals and articulation of a standardisation response in support of the realisation of the goals. The goals include an eradication of poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, industry; innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, sustainable oceans and rivers, sustainable land use, peace; justice and strong institutions, global partnerships for sustainable goals.

“Standardisation is critical to the efficient functioning of all economies and exists to ensure that access to and delivery of products, management systems and services are aligned to requisite standards. The UN sustainable goals are echoed in the national development plan, which can be achieved through the development and implementation of national standards. Minimum requirements which exist throughout the world need to be included in policy making, general trade agreements and in every transaction and interaction for Vision 2030 to be realised,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

SABS also hosted ISO week 10 years ago which was the first time an African country hosted the ISO General Assembly. The 2019 event is also special as it heralds in the first African ISO president who takes office on 01 January 2020


For more information contact:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations;;0124286878, 0610300133

SABS leads industry collaboration in determining renewal and modernisation of NETFA

Various organisations and industry associations met at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) today for the first planning meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA) TAC was launched on 30 July 2019 to create an open and inclusive platform for a broad group of electro-technical stakeholders to advise on the renewal and modernisation of NETFA.

NETFA is the largest, independent test facility for power utilities and the electro-technical industry, within Africa and has been providing services since 1980. The test facility, based in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng is equipped with indoor and outdoor high-voltage test facilities, a short circuit test laboratory and a materials & installations laboratory. NETFA provides services to a wide range of local, African and international clients in fields such as electricity generation and distribution, mining equipment, asset management, and electronics manufacturing.

“While SABS has regularly invested in maintenance and upgrades, we have reached a point where we need to strategically recapitalise NETFA to meet current and future test demands. The renewal must be done with the support and inclusion of the industry that it supports. The collective expertise of the TAC will be invaluable in determining the success of the modernisation effort,” says Johan Louw, SABS Executive: Laboratory Services Division.

Key industry stakeholders who make up the NETFA TAC will ensure alignment of the capital investment plans to the pace and development of the industry. Various workgroups will be created to ensure that there is a broader and deeper engagement to the proposed strategy and implementation plan.

“NETFA needs to support the local economy with relevant, cost effective conformity assessment services. The upgraded facility will be better able to meet the requirements of local and international standards as well as customer specific requirements. Products that are successfully tested at NETFA will enhance South Africa’s export potential and supports job creation,” says Louw.

In March 2019 the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) allocated R300 million, over a three year period to SABS for the purposes of upgrades to critical infrastructure to support the economy. R95 million was earmarked for infrastructure upgrades and included NETFA.


For more information contact:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations;;0124286878, 0610300133

The science of Solar Geysers for domestic use

Author: Erich Seeger, Senior Manager, Pr. Sci. Nat.


The concept of solar collection is not new at all, there are records of solar collection dated back to before the 1900’s, one of the first solar water heater found was a tank painted black and mounted on a roof. Basically, white light is all the colours in the visible spectrum. The closer a body is to white, the more light energy it reflects, which a black object effectively absorbs all the energy from the light as heat. Visible light forms a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, wavelengths of 400nm to 700nm’s. On each side of the spectrum we find ultraviolet (short wavelengths) and infrared (longer wavelengths), both invisible to the human eye. We feel infrared as heat.

The full electromagnetic spectrum extends from gamma-rays (very short wavelengths) to radio waves (very long waves) which has other useful purposes. Sunlight covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum which makes it a very valuable source of energy. A black object absorbs this energy which is transformed in heat. We can then transfer this heat to another body such as water.

The Physics of solar water geysers

Heat capacity can easily be understood by the example of the beach and the sea, early in the morning the sand is relatively cool and in the afternoon the sand may become very hot but the sea remained at the same temperature although both were exposed to the same sunlight. The answer lies in the heat capacities of water versus sand. Much more energy is needed to heat up water than sand.

The heat capacity of water is very important and is the amount of heat it requires to raise the temperature of 1mL of water with 1 degree Celsius.

Cw=4,186 Joules/gK

Heat always flows from a warmer body to the cooler body and this is called heat flow. The heat transfer, Q is the measured solar energy absorbed in terms of the increase in temperature of the water.

Qgain = Qloss

Where Qloss is the sun energy absorbed and Qgain is temperature rise of the water.The heat gained can be calculated by using the simple heat flow equation,

Q = mc∆T

Where Q is the heat flow and measured in joules, m is the mass of the water, c is the heat capacity of the water and ∆T is change of the water temperature.
One Joule is equivalent to one Watt of power radiated or dissipated for one second, so 1W = 1J/s. There are many practical examples in nature and one is one second of sunlight shining on a 10 cm2 piece of earth surface.

The standards that shape the South African industry

South African National Standards (SANS) are developed and maintained by SABS and various technical committees. As technologies change, the standards are updated. Some of the primary standards are discussed below.

  • SANS 1307:2014 - Domestic storage solar water heating system. This standing includes 23 additional standards, depending on the design and construction of the system.
  • SANS 151:2017 - Fixed electric storage water heaters
  • SANS 10400 - National Building Regulations. This standard defines that solar geysers could consist of the following, but not limited to:
  • a) Solar Thermal Collectors to capture and retain the heat from the sun and this energy is used to heat the water.
    b) Pump (Active system).
    c) Controller which senses the temperature differences between water leaving the solar collector and water in the storage tank.
    d) Insulated tank that is a water filled container to be heated.
  • SANS 6210: 2016 - Domestic solar water heaters — Mechanical qualification tests. This standard contains the specifications for mechanical tests

Types of Testing that SABS conducts

SABS conducts the following mechanical tests against the specifications contained in SANS 6210.

  • Stagnation of the collectors – the system is exposed to the sun for 15 to 30 days without any water in the system. During the test regular observations of the system is made and recorded.
  • Fatigue and hydrostatic pressure test – The system is subjected to 250,000 cycles between zero kPa and the working pressure of the system.
  • Rain Penetration test – The collectors are sprayed with water at a volumetric rate of 165 litres per hour. After the test there should be no accumulative water on the interior of the collectors.
  • Resistance to hail damage – During this test the system is exposed to a simulated hail impact and no damage shall be visible after the test.
  • Test for resistance to freezing – The system is exposed to a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius for a time period and then increased to 20 degrees Celsius for four cycles. After the test all components shall be evaluated for any visible damage and if deemed necessary, a pressure test may be performed.
  • The test for resistance to dezincification is performed on all plumbing components to verify the quality of the brass components. DZR means the leaching of zinc out off a brass alloy.

SABS conducts the following tests against the specifications contained in SANS 1307. Conformance to SANS 1307 requires testing to SANS 151 as SANS 151 is referenced as a normative requirement in SANS 13074.

  • The performance of a geyser is tested against SANS 151.
  • Safety tests are conducted against SANS 60335-2-21 -Safety of household and similar electrical appliances Part 1, and requirements for storage water heaters Part 2.
  • Mechanical performance tests according to SANS 1307 - Domestic solar water heaters.
  • Thermal performance tests (Efficiency or performance or Q factor of systems) against SANS 6211-1 – Thermal performance tests
  • Tests for SANS 10106 – installation and maintenance of solar water heating systems.

Testing for Certification purposes

For the purpose of the SABS Certification scheme the SABS auditor will identify the samples to be taken to the SABS Laboratories during the site assessment. It is important to note that a self-sampled system may not be used for certification purposes because there is no traceability back to a batch that was manufactured. Samples selected for testing need to conform to the visual inspection criteria before it is submitted to the Testing Laboratory.

Testing will be conducted on the samples against the relevant SANS. Only successful test reports will enable a manufacturer to proceed with the certification of the geyser type.

Local content verification

SABS will conduct verification according to SANS 1286:2017 and local production and content designation requirements as contained in the National Treasury Instruction Note. This is to ensure that local manufacturing takes place in the country and that minimum local content threshold is achieved. The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has designated SWH components at 70% for solar collectors; and 70% for storage tanks (geysers).


For more information contact:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations;;0124286878, 0610300133

The outdoor laboratory for testing solar geysers, located in Groenkloof, Pretoria.
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Solar Geysers raise the standard of basic services

While access to water and sanitation remain a basic human right, in South Africa access to solar heated water may become the norm. The collaboration with government and the private sector in the last few years has produced a sound foundation for the provision of high quality, safe and locally produced solar geysers.

“The intersection of various regulations, the intent to find alternative sources of energy and the requirement for testing, local content verification and certification of solar geysers will lead to hot water in homes becoming a reality for all South Africans in the future. The reduced reliance on the energy grid has multiple benefits on household expenses, access to services and will bolster economic growth,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

The following regulations and partnerships have contributed to the growth of the industry:

  • The National regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) has regulated geysers for domestic use (VC 9006). The regulation includes the labelling of the products and conformance to SANS 151 through a recognised certification scheme
  • A partnership with the Department of Energy (DoE) and South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has resulted in thousands of geysers being successfully tested and the local content being verified
  • National Building Regulation for energy Usage in buildings requires that 50% (by volume) of the annual average of hot water requirements come from sources other than electric heating or fossil fuels, encouraging the use of solar geysers
  • The Department of Trade and Industry has designated solar water heater components at 70% for collectors and 70% for storage tanks

SABS is currently the only laboratory in South Africa that is independently testing solar geysers. The laboratory comprises an indoor and outdoor test facility that covers mechanical and electrical components. There are a range of SANS that applies to the testing of solar geysers and the duration of tests range over several weeks.

“The SABS will continue to be part of solutions that contribute to greater access to services, poverty alleviation and the upliftment of society. Ensuring that solar geysers are tested and certified to quality standards leads to greater take up of the energy efficient solutions for water heating. Including the product as a designated products creates a robust local manufacturing sector with long term economic benefits,” says Strachan.


For more information contact:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations;;0124286878, 0610300133

The City of Cape Town leads implementation and certification of SABS standards

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has awarded the City of Cape Town’s Electricity Generation and Distribution department which is a part of the Energy and Climate Change division with an OHSAS 18001 certificate. The certificate covers 27 sites of the division. The award ceremony took place today at their head office in Bellville, Cape Town.

The OHSAS certification has been awarded to the City of Cape Town’s division after it was audited by SABS and the results confirm that the City’s processes and operations comply with the requirements of OHSAS 18001: Occupational Health and Safety Management System.

“The process of being awarded the certification is rigorous and we commend the City as they now have a documented system in place for health and safety. Municipalities across the country are not often aware that South African National Standards (SANS) and conformity assessment services can and should play a role to enable municipalities to function efficiently and ultimately to improve delivery of services to communities. The range of SANS available provide specifications on a range of products, management and operating systems. SABS provides indispensable support to municipalities and helps them deliver cost effective and professional services,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

The City of Cape Town is one of the first municipalities to achieve SANS/ISO 18001: Occupational Health and safety management system certification for its Electricity Generation and Distribution Department. It also boasts SABS certification for SANS/ISO 9001: quality management system for the Department of Water and Sanitation.

The SABS, which is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry provides a vital service to municipalities, especially those that are experiencing difficulties in delivering their mandate. Some of the services include the development of SANS, product and system certification, conformity assessment, training, local content verification and consignment inspection. SABS has also been able to assist in developing tender specifications that has greatly reduced fruitless and wasteful expenditure, by ensuring that quality specifications and independent verification of the quality of products procured are included.

“Partnerships and collaboration amongst municipalities and state agencies are crucial in the delivery of quality services and products to citizens. Institutions like the SABS must be used to grow local economies, to improve the performance and management of municipalities and to ensure that certification to standards (both local and international) are attained as a vehicle to attract investment,” says Strachan.


OHSAS 18001: Occupational Health and Safety System will be replaced by SANS/ISO 45000: Occupational Health and Safety System in March 2021. SABS is currently working with the City of Cape Town to transition to the new standard.

Issued By: Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; 0124286878, 0610300133;

SABS can assist municipalities with the testing of chemical toilets

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is aware that municipalities are faced with challenges regarding the management of chemical toilets. SABS is able and willing to work with the relevant municipalities to design a set of specific requirements for the efficient functioning of portable toilets (chemical or otherwise). The importance of specifications is that testing or verification services can be done against those criteria.

Currently, there is no specific SANS that details the use of chemicals in portable toilets, however there are several standards, based on international standards that can be consulted for the development of specific requirements for portable, chemical toilets.

  • SANS/ISO 30500:2018 –Specifies general safety and performance requirements for design and testing as well as sustainability considerations for non-sewered sanitation systems (NSSS).
  • SANS/ISO 8099:2008 - Specifies requirements for the design, construction and installation of systems for temporary retention of sewage for subsequent disposal. Applies to small craft of hull length up to 24 m.
  • SANS/IEC 60335-2-84:2014 - Deals with the safety of electric toilets in which excrement is stored, dried, or destructed, their rated voltage being not more than 250 V.

SABS has the largest suite of testing laboratories in South Africa and can offer a customised, multidisciplinary testing service to ensure that the mechanical, chemical, electrical and other elements are supplied according to a stringent set of specifications.

A safe functioning toilet is required for its impact on public health, human dignity, and personal safety, especially for women and children. Globally, 19 November is observed as World Toilet Day as declared by the United National General Assembly in 2013. In South Africa, the eradication of pit toilets and the provision of safe, functioning and efficient toilet systems are required. The SABS is integral to ensure that South Africans benefit from standardisation and the assurance from having products tested.


Please attribute quotations to: Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS

For more information contact Roshelle Pillay:
0124286878, 0610300133

National Electricity Test Facility (NETFA) and ACTOM sign cooperation agreement to enhance testing of locally manufactured electrical equipment

The National Electricity Test Facility (NETFA), which is owned by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), and ACTOM (Pty) Ltd, South Africa’s leading electro-mechanical group, have formalised a cooperation agreement for the testing of products from ACTOM’s Transmission & Distribution (T&D) divisions in pursuit of a commercial relationship to underpin the delivery of quality testing of the locally manufactured products.

The agreement is aimed at improving cooperation and services offered by NETFA for all electrical products that are manufactured in South Africa by ACTOM’s six T&D divisions.

The ACTOM T&D divisions manufacture and supply a comprehensive range of electrical infrastructural equipment which caters chiefly to clients in the public sector. The divisions are ACTOM High Voltage Equipment, ACTOM Power Transformers, ACTOM Distribution Transformers, ACTOM MV Switchgear, ACTOM Protection & Control and ACTOM Current Electric.

The cooperation agreement, which was signed on March 18, 2019, is seen as a forerunner to a NETFA initiative which will see more frequent engagements with companies in the national electricity supply sector.

Currently NETFA meets most of the national industrial testing requirements and the cooperation agreement will ensure that all companies in the sector are kept appraised of NETFA’s operational improvements to its testing systems and procedures.

Following the appointment of a new accounting authority, the SABS has adopted a greater customer-centric approach than it had in the past. The organisation has displayed a greater willingness to meet customers’ testing requirements and has initiated a programme to respond promptly to customers’ specific requirements regarding testing and queries.

Tembela Caza, ACTOM’s Divisional CEO for T&D, said: “One of the most important points that NETFA conveyed to us in our discussions with them – which are now encapsulated in the signed agreement – is that they are totally customer-focussed and are ready and willing to tailor-make their methods to meet customers’ specific testing requirements as far as possible.”

Johan Louw, the SABS’ Executive: Laboratory Services Division, commented: “The demand for high, medium and low voltage electromechanical goods in Southern Africa continues to grow and NETFA is the primary facility on the continent that conducts tests on this range from ACTOM and of course others manufacturing similar and related equipment.

“We realise that success at NETFA is also success for the domestic market, so the opportunity to collaborate with a home-grown electrical equipment manufacturer made sense and we wanted to codify this relationship. These are large and complicated equipment items, so it is only through collaboration we can deepen the sophistication of our testing methodologies.

“This means better quality products being bought by the market and especially those in the public sector. In our book this means greater value for money and quality for the average citizen,” he concluded.

Caza added that the cooperation agreement was likely to be extended to other ACTOM divisions and business units in the future.

ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is a level 1 B-BBEE Contributor with 51.97% Black Ownership and 34.79% Black Women Ownership. It is the largest manufacturer, solution provider, repairer, maintainer and distributor of electro-mechanical equipment in Africa.

For media enquiries contact:

Bjorn Buyst,
Phone: 012 428 7911 or 0861 277


Today in Pretoria, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) advised customers that testing conditions have been disrupted as a result of cable theft in the Pretoria area. The unforeseen disruption will cause delays in testing and the issuing of customer test certificates.

Electricity cables were stolen during May 2019 and on 19 May 2019 the SABS Building Management System (BMS) was negatively impacted through a power surge. While the repairs to the BMS have been prioritised the aged system has not been able to stabilise the environmental conditions required by the SABS laboratories.

The SABS customer communication states that ‘over the last four weeks the supply of testing conditions, namely temperature and humidity, from its central plant room to its laboratories has been interrupted by a faulty building management system (BMS) which was damaged in an electrical power surge on 19 May 2019, caused by the theft of municipal power cables in the Groenkloof area and that the SABS has not yet been able to fully restore testing conditions.’

The SABS said that although repairs were prioritised, the BMS control panel is still unable to fully monitor and control the hot and cold water system. This system provides the stable testing conditions to the laboratories on the 21-hectare campus. The engineering team has recommended that the existing boilers operate below the required capacity, at 80°C to prevent any further disruptions to operations.

Issued By:

Nils Flaatten, 082 409 2020 or

For information:

Ian Plaatjes – SABS Executive: Digitalisation (and responsible for facilities)


The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is committed to improving our external communication with our suppliers, customers and stakeholders. This external communication aims to provide a progress report on the Turnaround Plan (TA) for our Textiles, Leather and Footwear Laboratories and our service offerings that have been developed in the past 6 months.

1. Customer Specific Requirements (CSR)

The implementation of the Customer Specific Requirements (CSR) testing, which previously been referred to as partial testing, has now commenced in the laboratories. Although the initial uptake by the textiles, leather and footwear sectors has been moderate we believe that we have a strong offering to assist businesses with CSR solutions. We encourage companies and sector bodies to contact us for further information.

2. South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) Accreditation

The Textiles, Leather and Footwear Laboratory, which underwent a successful SANAS re-assessment at the end of February 2019, is an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited facility. The Laboratory seeks to increase our scope of accreditation and we aim to get 10 of testing methods accredited. The application process with regards to this has already been sent to SANAS and we eagerly await the dates for the assessment.

This laboratory is accredited to test to ISO 2589, ISO 3376, SANS ISO 2062, ISO 6940, ISO 6941, SABS ISO 13934-1 and SANS ISO 105 - A02, A03, B02, C01, C02, C03, C04, C05, C10, E01 and E04.

3. SATRA Membership

Following our customer roadshows and industry engagements we have begun the process of membership renewal with SATRA which is a Notified Body for various European directives including personal protection equipment (PPE).

We believe that the benefits of membership will allow the SABS to access SATRA’s technical infrastructure, benchmark our testing capabilities with their state of the art facilities, access their technical experts, allow us to procure additional instrumentation to close the SABS’ testing gaps and assist with the training of our test officers.

Furthermore, we believe that there are opportunities to sub-contract testing should the SABS not have the specific capability or should we require support in managing testing overflows during high sample testing periods. The SABS concluded a planned meeting with Ms. Christine Powley-Williams, the Assistant Director, SATRA Technology Centre in May 2019 to explore further opportunities.

The Laboratory has also undertaken a technology benchmarking exercise with SATRA and members of the SABS testing team are planning to visit SATRA at the end of the second quarter.

4. Appointment of a Laboratory Manager

We are happy to announce the appointment of Dr. Mlando Mvubu as the new Manager for the Textiles, Leather and Footwear Laboratory. Dr. Mvubu brings a wealth of industry experience and joins the SABS from the CSIR where he served in the Textiles: Research, Development and Testing unit for 9-years.

5. Equipment Renewal Programme

The SABS has invested R2 million in the procurement of a Humidity Chamber and a new Impact Tester. The Humidity chamber was delivered in May 2019 and is currently being commissioned. The procurement of the Impact Tester is still in-progress. Procurement is currently underway for the next phase of investment which will see a further R2.5 million spent by the middle of October 2019.

Some of the new instruments that were identified for this phase include:

  • Martindale STM 633 abrasion tester,
  • Bally penetrometer STM 703 – for upper water resistance,
  • Bally penetrometer STM 706 - for water resistance,
  • STM 473 Water vapour permeability device,
  • STD 478 water vapour absorption test apparatus, and
  • Instron Tensile Testing Systems

Further investment needs will be explored commensurate with industry requirements and partnering opportunities.

6. Improved Communication

The SABS has undertaken a huge investment and adopted a long-term digitization strategy which forms the backbone of our deliberate effort to modernize our ICT infrastructure. Part of this plan includes a renewed and improved Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). The benefits envisaged from this investment includes automated customer feedback as well as reporting mechanisms.

7. Improved Turnaround Times

During the December/ January recess, our operations were temporarily shut down to allow the SABS to undertake routine maintenance and repairs of critical infrastructure. This work was aimed at mitigating any operational stoppages and to ensure stable environmental testing conditions. We are pleased to announce that this work has been successful and has had positive impact on testing turnaround times. We will continue to work hard at maintaining stable testing conditions and have identified a new area for the Footwear Laboratory which is much more stable. Further communications on this will follow.

Engagements with the dti: Textiles, Leather and Footwear directorate

During April a SABS team, led by Mr. Johan Louw (Executive: Laboratory Services Division), Mr. Thabo Sepuru (Senior Manager: Chemicals & Materials Cluster) and Dr. Mlando Mvubu, met with Dr. Jaywant Irkhede from the dti to give him a status update on the Turnaround Plan for the Textiles, Leather and Footwear Laboratory. All of the matters that were discussed are captured in this status update report.

For further information please contact


Today, in Cape Town, Mr. Garth Strachan, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) reported to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry that the Turnaround Plan, which had been approved by its Shareholder - the Minister of Trade and Industry in January 2019, had brought back stability to the entity and that the SABS had reintroduced Customer Specific Requirement (CSR) testing.

Strachan said: “A key element in stabilising the SABS was to address the laboratory turnaround and this presented a need to resolve the vexing issue of ‘partial testing’ which we abandoned in 2015. This business decision, to limit all testing activities to a full South African National Standard (SANS), had many unintended consequences. As a result, the SABS and the dti were inundated with customer complaints and requests for us to reinstate the provision of partial testing. We had to change our strategy and create the capacity to deliver on our customer’s business needs. As a result the SABS Turnaround Plan has introduced a riskbased approach to Customer Specific Requirements testing. We still have a long journey ahead but initial industry engagements have validated our decision. We call on industry associations and companies that still have unresolved matters to contact the SABS urgently”.

The SABS, which had suffered from declining board governance and poor performance concerns, was placed under administration in July 2018. Three co-administrators were appointed for a six month period and Dr. Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has subsequently extended the co-administratorsappointment until the end of October 2019.

“The diagnostic report which was undertaken by the co-administrators and the disclaimer audit opinion by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) demonstrates that the decision, by the Minister, to place the SABS under administration was done timeously and in the public interest”, said Strachan .

Strachan went on to say that the SABS Turnaround Plan had begun to deliver results on cost containment, revenue generation, and the optimisation of procurement processes. He said that the SABS had budgeted R300 million for capital expenditure (capex) of which R58 million had been approved for the upgrading of critical testing infrastructure in the petroleum, chemicals and materials, agro-processing laboratories, R80 million for the digitisation of business processes and the remaining R95 million earmarked for maintenance of infrastructure which includes the National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA) in Olifantsfontein. He said in the six months under review the co-administrators had halved the trade deficit to R24 million, filled critical vacancies and maintained the SANAS accreditation.

The SABS has revitalised the Local Content Verification programme and had identified 64 projects of which 15 are in project execution. Strachan said that the SABS Local Content Verification programme is still dependent upon an approved government funding model which could open new verification opportunities in the mining sector.

Issued By:
Nils Flaatten, 082 409 2020 or

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Did you know that state condoms are tested to more stringent specifications?

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has been appointed as the laboratory to test the state issued condoms. These condoms are branded Max and distributed, free of charge within South Africa. Globally, the perception of state issued goods and services are categorised as ‘cheap’ and of a low quality, simply because they are free. This is not the case with Max condoms.

With the implementation of standardisation and compulsory testing, perceptions of state issued commodities are changing for the better. The Department of Health procures and distributes a billion condoms per year, sourced from multiple manufacturers in several countries around the world, to ensure a long and healthy life for all South Africans.

SABS has established a dedicated, accredited laboratory for the testing of condoms for both the Department of Health and private manufacturers of condoms. State issued condoms are tested to criteria set by the Department of Health, which are more stringent than testing requirements of SANS 4074. The additional set of guidelines for the testing of condoms requires the state issued condoms to be tested more frequently and ensures that every batch is tested, ensuring quality.

Why are state issued condoms of a higher quality?

  • Every batch of condoms is subject to testing, before it is distributed. From every batch of condoms manufactured, a sample is randomly selected using the international sampling criteria stipulated in SANS 2859-1:2004 for testing and only if the samples pass the test phase, does the batch get distributed;
  • A continuing series of tests and isolated tests are performed on the samples;
  • There is a central point of testing in South Africa, located at the SABS site in Groenkloof. This means that irrespective of where the condoms are manufactured, the products must conform to the stringent guidelines imposed by local authorities; and
  • According to the Department guidelines, each and every condom foil packet will have the batch or lot number printed on it, enabling the user to clearly verify whether that specific product has been endorsed by SABS.

The relationship with the Department of Health and SABS spans more than decade and has evolved over the years into a strategic quality partnership. Post-tender quality assurance services offered by SABS will ensure that products that are delivered during the life-cycle of a tender will be tested and monitored throughout the tender period to ensure consistent quality of products are distributed to users.
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NETFA boosts its testing capability with new Buck-boost current Injection equipment

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has increased its testing capacity at the National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA) by purchasing a set of new Buck-boost current injection machines. NETFA becomes the only facility on the continent with the testing capability that the new machines offer.

The Short Circuit laboratory has been fitted with six new Buck-boost current injection machines and one supply unit. All the equipment has been fitted, calibrated and is operational for testing. The new equipment has improved the efficiencies of the laboratory through the assembly of low voltage equipment, reduced the turnaround times of the testing processes and increased the reliability of temperature rise tests.

More low voltage equipment can now be assembled to be simultaneously tested from the same supply source. Overall a week of testing time can be reduced to two or three days. Most tests are conducted against the South African National Standard (SANS) series for Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies - SANS 61439.

The investment in the new equipment is part of the turnaround strategy of SABS to ensure that it continues to offer and deliver quality conformance testing services. SABS has been in the business of testing electro-technical equipment, products and appliances since the 1990s.

The relationship with the Department of Health and SABS spans more than decade and has evolved over the years into a strategic quality partnership. Post-tender quality assurance services offered by SABS will ensure that products that are delivered during the life-cycle of a tender will be tested and monitored throughout the tender period to ensure consistent quality of products are distributed to users.
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One of the new Buck-boost current injection machines that can accommodate greater assemblies of low voltage equipment that can be tested simultaneously from a single supply source

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SABS teams up with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to develop SMMEs

Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Mpumalanga have seen tangible results with their business operations, increased customers and better market opportunities. This follows a partnership agreement between the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) which began in 2014. The agreement requires the SABS to mentor and guide selected SMMEs in the Province in product development and quality assurance.

Several SMMEs have achieved certification status on their quality management systems and products by the SABS since the inception of the programme. These SMMEs are now being included in the provincial supply chain. SMMEs that participated in the programme were of varying categories from start-ups, to community cooperatives to businesses that were operational.

The SABS SMME department operates nationally with a wide range of expert consultants. SABS provides, develops, maintains and promotes national standards to help companies become more competitive, supporting the development of the South African economy. We encourage the protection of consumers by assisting SMMEs to have their products tested to relevant standards. SABS is integral in the fight against poverty and the drive towards inclusive growth in the South African economy, by South Africans.

Click here to read about Shamila Trading Enterprise
Click here to read about Honesty Trade
Click here to read the brochure that profiles the Mpumalanga SMME development programme

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04 December 2018


Today, in Pretoria, Johan Louw, the Executive responsible for the Laboratory Services Division at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), announced that three of the testing laboratories had been awarded commendations by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) for maintaining continuous accreditation status during the last 20 years.

Louw said: “SANAS is the single National Accreditation Body which is set out in law and that gives formal recognition to laboratories, certification and inspection bodies as well as proficiency testing scheme providers. A critical component of the SANAS accreditation is the ISO/IEC 17025 and the OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) for test facilities and for the last 20-years our laboratories have proved that they are competent to carry out specific testing tasks. ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation is the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories around the world. ISO 17025 accredited laboratories have demonstrated that they are technically proficient and able to produce precise and accurate test and calibration data. Regulators and others rely on the competence of laboratories to deliver the results on which important decisions are made. Accreditation enhances the public confidence in those test results. These laboratories are high volume testing facilities and play a critical support role to the companies in these sectors. These commendation are important to us as it proves that for the last 20-years we been consistently delivering credible test results and assurance to our customers and, in turn, their consumers, who see the SABS mark scheme on these products.”

The three laboratories: Chromatographic Services, Lighting Technologies and Explosion Prevention Technology laboratories provide testing service to a number of foreign based companies, JSE-listed holding companies and domestic companies in South Africa.

Louw went on to say that the Chromatographic Services Department conducts pesticide residue analyses and that the results generated are used in pesticide registration applications for regulatory authorities both locally and abroad. He went on to say that the Lighting Technology tests were conducted on a wide range of products such as luminaires, traffic signalling equipment, automotive lighting, road signs and retroreflective materials.

“The success of this had allowed the SABS to purchase a new apparatus that will allow the laboratory to add photobiological safety and UV radiation testing to the range of capabilities.” said Louw

The Explosion Prevention Technology laboratory tests equipment used in hazardous on surface and underground mining sectors, as well as those used in the Petroleum Industries. Conformity testing forms a critical component of the Department of Minerals and Resources’ Inspection Authority certification process.

The awards were received by Duke Nene, Hein Garbers and Theo Fourie of the SABS on behalf of the individual laboratories.

Issued By:

Mr Bjorn Buyst, email: or phone 082 491 9299

For further information:
Johan Louw, Executive: Laboratory Services Division on 082 711 1279

Dear Valued Client

A key element of the laboratory turnaround plan is the resolution of the subject of “partial testing”. In 2015 the SABS exercised a business decision to limit all testing activities to full SANS standards, following the identification of several risk factors associated with partial testing. The unintended impact on industry following this decision has been severe and the dti and SABS had received numerous complaints and requests to reinstate the application of partial testing. Key factors highlighted by our stakeholders include:

  • Impact on industry on costs associated with full testing
  • Costs associated with development testing, when only full testing could be sourced from the SABS laboratories
  • Limitations associated with SABS only testing to SANS and constraints for industry where foreign standards have not been adopted as SANS
  • Exclusion of testing to customer specific requirements, where SABS has the capability to perform independent testing against such requirements

To resolve the impasse, the SABS’s executive management has developed a risk based implementation plan to implement Customer Specific Requirements (CSR) Testing. This plan was adopted by the SABS Executive Committee and took effect in October 2018.

The SABS laboratories management has commenced engagement with a variety of customers and stakeholder groups and will continue to do so to allow further development and understanding of industry requirements for testing and how SABS can effect capacitation to support such requirements. Currently, all CSR Testing will be authorised following review by the SABS Executive for Laboratory Services. SABS has implemented a development program to ensure that all of the laboratory management structures are enabled with processes and procedures to manage and execute CSR Testing where practicable and enable direct transactional engagements such as the case for full SANS testing to be achieved in all laboratories. This program of risk management, revised operational processes and contracting models is being executed and the target is to achieve full institutionalisation within 6 months.

The SABS laboratories has thus implemented a program to enable the testing of certain parts of SANS including the accommodation of non-SANS standards or specific testing requirements (once accreditation and methods are in place). Our initial stakeholder feedback sessions noted that in order to support local manufacturing in export competitiveness, the laboratories are required to expand testing capabilities beyond SANS standards. It is also important to appreciate that accreditation to non-SANS test methods will require stringent evaluation and correspondingly adequate lead time for implementation.

SABS identified that CSR testing will support customer development and verification testing. CSR Testing will likely be from customer sourced samples and therefore the test reports will be in the form of a datasheet report and watermarked “for customer information only” and is thus not a statement of compliance to a standard or part thereof. However, it should assist customers in independently verifying specific characteristics of their product in its development programme.

We welcome you to engage your regular contacts within the SABS laboratories to explore your needs for CSR Testing and assess how SABS could provide services in this regard. We would like to make use of the opportunity to thank you for your ongoing business and support to the SABS laboratories as we deliver our turnaround strategy and work towards enhanced support for our local manufacturing industries in their quest for increased global competitiveness as well as ensuring improved compliance and quality of products entering the South Africa market.

We uphold our commitment to modernise our operations and explore ongoing methods to improve operational efficiencies and enhance customer experience. Your feedback is welcomed in this regard.

For all service related queries, please contact our central call centre to ensure that your query can be logged, tracked and resolved. The contact details are:

We thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely,
SABS Executive Management

19 NOVEMBER 2018

(Source: google)

World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day on 19 November to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. It is a day established by the World Toilet Organisation in 2001, and in 2013 declared by the UN General Assembly. UN-Water is the official convener of World Toilet Day and chooses a special theme for each year. The theme for 2018 is nature-based solutions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 2.5 billion people lack adequate access to safe, clean toilets, and 1 billion people are forced to defecate in the open. The devastating consequences of these practices include an estimated 1 million preventable deaths per year, primarily from dysentery-like diarrheal diseases.

In 2011, the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) programme of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, to bring sustainable sanitation solutions. Furthermore, ISO established PC 305 to develop a standard that would facilitate development of sanitation systems that promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability through strategies that include minimizing resource consumption, for example water and energy, and maximizing reusable output. The SABS has, from inception, been a participating member of ISO PC 305, and through our national experts, made significant inputs to the international standard, that is today published as ISO 30500 Non-sewered sanitation systems – Prefabricated integrated treatment units – General safety and performance requirements for design and testing.

What problems will the standard solve?

The global sanitation issues exist because current technologies are unsuited to addressing the underlying challenges that cause them. Current technologies require water and sewer infrastructure that is not always feasible in areas where toilets are required. The Constitution of South Africa states it is a human right to have basic water and sanitation services, regardless of your locality or area of settlement. This means sanitation services must be provided not only to the urban areas where sewer connections are accessible, but also to remote areas, as well as areas where ground and/or landscape conditions make sewered sanitation less accessible.

Further to that, South Africa is a water scarce country, where any opportunity to minimise the consumption of this precious resource must be seized. ISO 30500 promotes the use of minimal or no water at all to flush the toilets, as well as allowing for the recovery of resources in some instances. South African stakeholders and experts have deliberated and found it fit for ISO 30500 to be adopted as a South African National Standard, and the process is nearing completion. The public can look forward to the Draft South African Standard (DSS 30500) when it is circulated for comment.

Toilets are important because access to a safe functioning toilet has a positive impact on public health, human dignity, and personal safety, especially for women and children. Sanitation systems that do not safely treat excreta allow the spread of disease. Serious soil-transmitted diseases and waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentery and schistosomiasis can result. South Africa itself has suffered the avoidable, unnecessary and tragic losses of small children dying as a result of poor access to adequate sanitation.

The SABS was part of a delegation led by the office of the President, including the WRC, UKZN, DST, DEA, eThekwini Municipality, and upcoming manufacturers of these innovative solutions, in attending the Reinvented Toilet Expo held in Beijing, China, earlier this month. The Reinvent the Toilet Challenge is aimed at spurring the development of technologies that would address sanitation challenges as identified by the WHO. Numerous technologies were showcased at the event which encourage hope for affected communities and potential for the development of new industries. This work is also a key contributor to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6; SDG10 and SDG 11). The SABS is proud to bring sustainable development solutions to South African communities.

For more information please contact us: email:
Customer Contact Centre: 0861 277 227/

SABS Acting CEO briefs Parliament on intervention and diagnostic process

Strachan, was appointed Acting CEO after the resignation of Dr Boni Mehlomakulu on 2 August 2018. The other two co-administrators are: Ms Jodi Scholtz - Chief Operating Officer and Dr Tshenge Demana – Chief Director of Technical Infrastructure of the dti.

Strachan said “the co-administrators have been mandated by Minister Davies to undertake a diagnostic analysis and develop a ‘turn-around’ strategy for the SABS. The development of these implementation plans are being done in conjunction with the Executive Management team and, collectively, we have stabilised the business. We are now going to focus on the SABS customers”

Strachan explained that the diagnostic assessment has focussed on:

  • An analysis of the financial position of the SABS, its short- and long-term sustainability, the organisation’s institutional arrangements and its current business model;
  • The identification of all the critical and short-term ‘burning platforms’, which includes the permit backlog and all customer complaints;
  • An investigation into the lifting of the moratorium on ‘partial’ testing;
  • The re-enforcement of core SABS mandates, with special emphasis on Standards and Conformity Assessment; and
  • An evaluation of the structural issues and constraints affecting infrastructure and equipment.

“We have reviewed the leadership structure and created an interim organisational executive. This included the finalising of vacant executive positions, divisional reporting lines and the appointment of a Human Capital Executive. The resolution of outstanding customer certificates is now being supported by the implementation of an optimised ICT system and we are also expediting the re-issuing of expired permits. There has also been a number of unintended consequences when the moratorium on partial testing was implemented and it is now under review and consideration by the leadership team. Finally, we have developed a stakeholder engagement and marketing strategy to address weaknesses in internal and external communication.” said Strachan.

The diagnostic process, which is being driven by the co-administrators, will be an ongoing process and will proceed into the New Year. Strachan went on to say that the turn-around strategy will require ‘a carefully sequenced approach, with an interlocking series of interventions that had to be linked to the budget and financial position of the SABS.

The SABS said the Ministerial intervention and subsequent events have not impacted the SABS operations and that it continues to deliver quality services to clients. The SABS accreditation status remains unaffected and the organisation will uphold the commitment to modernise operations, improve operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience.

The SABS which is the sole shareholder of its subsidiaries, SABS Commercial SOC (Ltd), said that it has removed the former SABS Board members as Directors of SABS Commercial SOC (Ltd).

The SABS is confident that this process has been lawful, accountable (to the shareholder, the Department of Trade and Industry), and in accordance with the rule of law and in the public interest.

The SABS notes that there is a court process underway, which has been initiated by some of the former Directors of the SABS Board. The SABS will oppose these court applications and will respect the outcomes of the legal process which is underway.

For any related media enquiries contact Mr Bjorn Buyst, email: or phone 0861277 277


On 6 July 2018 Dr Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, appointed three Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) officials as co-administrators of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and tasked them with undertaking a diagnostic analysis and developing a “turn-around strategy” to improve operations at the SABS.

This followed Minister Davies’ decision to dissolve the SABS Board of Directors on 28 June 2018.

The Chief Executive Officer of the SABS, Dr Boni Mehlomakulu who was suspended after due process was followed, has subsequently tendered her resignation with effect from 1 August 2018.

Mr Garth Strachan, previously the Deputy Director-General of the Industrial Development Division at the dti, has been appointed as the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the SABS.

The Administrators’ diagnostic analysis will be completed in cooperation with the existing management team, staff members as well as with internal and external stakeholders and will reaffirm and strengthen the organisation, its structures and systems.

The SABS is a strong organisation which has been exposed to temporary weaknesses and operational problems. The SABS remains open for business as the organisational weaknesses are being addressed by the Administrators.

Media enquiries to: Mr Bjorn Buyst / Ms Verna Schutte


The publishing of the draft Competition Act Amendment Bill in December 2017 re-ignited a myriad of debates about the stark reality of the economic challenges facing South Africa and the pressing need to create conditions that support transformation and inclusive growth. The draft Bill acknowledges that South Africa has a unique history that was designed around exclusionary practices – exclusion of the outside world and exclusion of internal constituents as well. In order to maintain that structure, it became expedient for business and government institutions like the SABS to work in concert. This symbiosis, coupled with limited expansion in the skills base needed to input into the process to develop industry standards has led to an unhealthy shift in the power dynamic where industry currently holds more power than would be optimal for robust governance.

In seeking to achieve the desired outcomes of inclusive and robust economic growth as well as accessing and exploiting process and technical innovations, the SABS is looking for new ways of collaborating with industry to make meaningful participation of new market players accessible and tangible.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is mandated by the Standards Act (No.8 of 2008) to develop and maintain a National Norm for the development of South African National Standards (SANS). To achieve this, a consensus building process amongst key national role players must be established. The national norm thus provides for the representation of divergent economic and consumer interests in the standards development process.

If the outcomes of the development process are correctly applied, it should then also support the desired outcomes of the Competition Act. That is, to prevent the abuse of any form of market dominance by a business or person and promote a wider economic participation in the national economy. National standards can also facilitate the introduction of new technologies and innovations by ensuring that the products, components and services that are supplied by different manufacturers are compatible and interoperable. Standards are also aimed at providing safety and quality assurance to the consumer.

A South African National Standards that is either locally written or created by adopting an international (usually ISO or IEC) standard, and which is properly developed can be a cornerstone in the effort to address the socio-economic ambitions and many other development challenges in South Africa. Furthermore, standards can play a role in opening up regional trade opportunities and thus help grow the national and regional economy.

Despite the aforementioned benefits, the process to develop standards can often give rise to a number of competition and regulatory challenges. Competition law, fundamentally seeks to prohibit vertical and horizontal practices that have a direct or indirect restrictive impact on economic growth and market participation. These prohibited practices range from collusion, abuses of dominance, price fixing, exclusionary practices.

At its core, standard-setting involves coordinated action between many interested and effected parties in an industry which could include potential competitors – the very antithesis of what the competition regulatory framework espouses. It is at this intersection that the SABS is grappling with how to navigate potential competition law challenge in the standards development process.

Hard pills to swallow

The SABS has learned some hard lessons in recent years where cases were referred to the Competition Commission for investigation. Although the commission ruled that no further investigations were warranted, the SABS processes were indeed found wanting and seriously in need of strengthening. The SABS thus accepted that there was a need to create a platform for all parties to debate these cases in order to emerge with new tools for collaborating and cooperating when revising and developing new national standards. This impetus resulted in the SABS hosting Standards and Competition Law Indaba at the end of 2017.

The Indaba was supported and informed by leadership of the Competition Commission, International and Regional Standards Associations (ISO and ARSO) the legal fraternity, as well as Chairpersons and members from a cross-section of SABS Technical Committees. Although these engagements were sometimes difficult, they were always robust and highly informative.

Emerging from the Indaba

Some of the key considerations which emerged from the Indaba were the following:

• The governance challenge of setting new standards is not unique to South Africa. It is something that many National Standards Bodies (NSBs) are grappling with. The increase in internet connectivity and a greater reliance on technology-based platforms has assisted other NSBs to facilitate broader participation in the development of their national standards.
• NSBs and affected interest groups need to consistently interrogate whose interests the Technical Committees (TCs) are serving, and monitor that the national standard achieves its intended purpose.
• As a NSB, the SABS needs to look at the role of technology in creating greater inclusivity and participation of the TC s which are constituted on a voluntary basis. In this regard, access to bandwidth and infrastructure is a challenge in many developing countries.
• We also need to test the objectivity and rational basis for the restrictions that govern our participation criteria and whether the practices and criteria inherited from international counterparts serve the needs of countries in our region.
• At every step and in all our endeavours, NSBs, industry bodies, academia, research institutions, policy makers, consumer advocates, civil society and regulators need to continuously ask and interrogate inclusivity of other role players.

In short, all stakeholders must take responsibility for what happens in the technical committees in which they participate. The SABS committee support teams need to be empowered to monitor and call out any risky behaviour by participants, as well give guidance to members. This must give credibility to the overall process so as to achieve the national benefit for which standards created to achieve.

Charting the road ahead

The SABS is on a drive to re-connect with stakeholders and interested parties in the development of national standards. During February and March 2018, three sector-specific workshops were hosted by the SABS which focused on the energy, construction and agro-processing sectors. The aim was to obtain broad-based inputs on issues affecting and driving these sectors. Sector Development Agreements will now be drafted and agreed with a view to informing standardisation activities in those arenas. These will be rolled out with other strategic sectors key to delivering on national priorities.

The SABS and the Competition Commission have agreed to formally establish a Joint Working Committee that can actively drive capacity building, advocacy and interventions which are aimed at strengthening governance supporting the development of new and existing national standards.

Article by:
Zingisa Motloba,
SA Bureau of Standards: Standards Executive

Karabo Ntseke, 31 years old, is the first black South African female that has been registered as competent to operate a high power plant, in the southern hemisphere. She is currently a test officer within the short circuit laboratory at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). The short circuit laboratory is one of the laboratories at the SABS’ National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA).

Karabo started her career at SABS as a student completing her in-service requirement for her Electrical Engineering diploma through the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). After her graduation, in 2011 she was employed as a candidate test officer and within a year i.e. 2012 she became the first female Test Officer at the Short Circuit Laboratory. In order to perform as a test officer there are several rigorous competencies and procedures that are required, which Karabo did within a few months. In January 2015, she was deemed competent to operate the High Power test plant and became a SANAS accredited Technical Signatory, making her the only South African woman with such a specialised competency.

“I’ve always had a passion for electrical engineering and gravitated towards high power, so getting the SANAS accredited competency is a significant achievement in such a specialised and male-dominated field,” says Karabo.
Based on her commitment to continuous improvement and her performance, Karabo was also selected to participate in the SABS Learnership programme and completed a study visit to China, to learn and observe testing at an international high power plant.
“SABS provides a great learning environment and I am grateful for the mentors, the highly skilled management and the learning opportunities that enable me to continuously grow,” says Karabo.

South Africa’s National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA), owned and managed by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is the primary, independent test facility for power utilities and the electro-technical industry, in Africa. The facility is accredited by the South African National Accreditation Systems (SANAS) a signatory to the ILAC MRA for the accreditation of inspection bodies, in accordance with the international standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 for the operation and management of the facility. A vast range of electrical distribution and transmission equipment can be tested at the facility by technical experts.

The following independent and impartial laboratories are located at NETFA:

• Short Circuit laboratory
• High Voltage laboratory
• Materials & Installation laboratories

The SABS NETFA laboratories are equipped with technology that is unique in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.

For further information on NETFA or any opportunities within SABS contact: