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Local entrepreneur shakes up the skin care industry

This is a story about a vision, hard work, determination, belief, support and collaboration with various role players to make the dream a reality…

About 240 000 tubs and tubes of The PortiaMtm range of skincare products fly off the shelves off various local retailers every month. Thousands of users post testimonials on social media about how the South African manufactured products have helped their skin. The affordable range is stocked at Pick n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite, Game, Clicks and Dischem. With R35 million in sales from 2018 being recorded and year on year growth of 20-25% being experienced since 2015, the company is ready for greater heights. With the recent South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) certification to SANS/ISO 9001, the company’s dream of expanding beyond the region is set to become a reality.

The company, Sibahle Skin Solutions was founded by Portia Mngomezulu in 2010. After discovering the incredible effects of using a marula oil product to reduce stretch marks following the birth of her first child, Portia needed to share her story and her products. Initially she began mixing her skin care solutions at home and sharing the products within her social circles. Within a few months the testimonials and photographic evidence of the products working on a variety of skins and skin type, Portia had the vision to commercialise her products. She has a day and night cream, toner, soaps, lotions, serums and body washes for various skins types in her skin care range.

Portia started at the very beginning. She began developing her products from her kitchen, moved into her garage and then rented out office space. Initially the products were sold within her social circle, however the demand grew and she then registered her company and trademarked the PortiaM brand. As a young, black female entrepreneur, there were various organisation to assist Portia launch her company and products. She learned about the commercialisation of her products and began to work on getting her products into retailers.

In September 2018, Sibahle Skin Solutions moved into their very own premises in Sunderland Ridge, Centurion, Pretoria. The new offices are more that 1500m2 and can make several batches of the skin care products at the same time. “The new offices give us the capability to increase our demand and to employ more people as we expand”, says Portia. Currently there are 33 people employed and the production plant is semi-automated. She says: “We are ready for the next growth step and having just achieved our SABS certification to SANS/ISO 9001, we are ready to take our products into Europe and the USA.”

SANS/ISO 9001 is an international set of standards relating to quality management. Implementation of the standards ensures that organisations put in the relevant systems and processes to ensure that there is quality management throughout the operations. Certification to the standard through SABS, provides assurance to international markets that the company has been audited and found to be operating according to the standards. “The road to certification has not been easy and we have tried for many years, however there were always audit findings that we have had to fix. Now with the certification achieved, it feels like the company I have created is finally ready to compete with more established competitors. I have the confidence to move into other markets,” enthuses Portia.

SABS has been with Portia since her early days when she was still making products on her hot plate and looking to test her products. The SMME department has been assisting her throughout the journey guiding her towards achieving certification. “As difficult and as long as the journey has gone, the implementation of SANS/ISO 9001 has really simplified the way I do business. It has assisted with the onboarding process as the operational requirements are mapped out, the productions processes are documented and it has freed up some of my time to start expanding into global markets,” says Portia.

Portia is currently working on a baby range of products. Like her adult range, she has been testing her prototypes on her own children and is very excited about the effects. The products are currently in development.
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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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Turnaround strategy regarding Appliances, Geyser and Electricity Meter Laboratory

Dear Valued Client

The SABS is committed to improve communication with customers and stakeholders in an effort to improve the quality of our services and in turn customer satisfaction. This letter focusses on the progress made to improve our testing service delivery to the Appliances, Geyser as well as Electricity Metering Industries.

Herewith our feedback in addressing some of your challenges concerning the Appliances, Geyser as well as Electricity Metering Laboratories

1. Customer Specific Requirements (CSR)

We are pleased that the issue of ‘partial testing’ has been resolved through the introduction of testing to customer specific requirements (CSR). In the letter that sent to the industry in November 2018, the SABS has committed itself to the re-introduction of this much needed service to you. We count on your support in this journey as we improve our service offering in line with your requirements. To this end, you are more than welcome to contact us with your enquiries in line with such testing services and we will endeavour to facilitate your requests within the constraints of our policies and capabilities.

2. Boiler Plant Major Refurbishment Project Shutdown

One of the critical service requirements for testing operations is the availability of environmental conditions (i.e. temperature and humidity). Conditions are a very critical element of testing in the; Appliances, Geyser as well as Electricity Metering Laboratories. The SABS laboratory infrastructure is in need of a major plant refurbishment. The SABS EXCO scheduled the first phase of this much needed refurbishment of our Central Boiler Plant. During the holiday period of 14 December 2018 to 31 January 2019, a complete SABS Boiler Plant shutdown was scheduled as a risk measure to minimise total disruptions and enhance future risk management capabilities.

As of Monday 08 February 2019, we confirm that most Appliances Laboratory conditions have been restored and we are ready to start testing with immediate effect in the majority of areas that were previously affected. Appliances (Cooking Appliances, Dishwasher, Thermostats), Geyser, as well as Electricity Metering laboratories can proceed with testing as part of the first phase of conditions restoration The only exception is with the Laundry Equipment Laboratory which will still be out of commission for a period of four weeks following the 8th February 2019. The unfortunate need for atwo phased approach arose as a result of the thermo-coil part failure necessary to control conditions to this particular Laboratory. Our suppliers have advised the SABS that this is a made-to-order part, resulting in the unfortunate lead time. We are targeting that the Laundry Equipment Laboratory will be back in operation by 4 March 2019.

We have furthermore identified the risk associated with centralised s conditions provision and control and the SABS Management is progressing with an alternative decentralised risk management strategy. Therefore in parallel with the Boiler Plant refurbishment execution, our Facilities Department were also working to decentralise the environmental condition sourcing for the Appliances (Cooking Equipment, Dishwasher, Laundry Equipment, Thermostats, AV Equipment), Geyser, as well as Electricity Metering Laboratories. This approach has been proven for laboratories such as the Appliances: Refrigerator Laboratory and we envisage finalising the localisation of the sources of environmental conditions and control to the targeted Labs by end of July 2019.

3. Geyser Laboratory

The SABS has committed to spend about R4m in the current financial year to upgrade the Geyser Laboratory. The NRCS has embarked on enforcing VC 9006 (geyser equipment: Class B labelling requirement), and our testing capacity and turnaround times were identified as insufficient. Currently, the SABS is only able to test three water heaters in every 8 weeks of the 49 operational weeks in a given year. Given the number of market demand, it is for this reason that the SABS’ current testing capacity was concluded to be inadequate. The Geyser Laboratory investment aims at testing process automation and increase the number of test benches from three to four. As such, the majority of the test work being automated, the Lab will realize 25% increase in available capacity per annum while turnaround times are improved by 50%.

In the efforts to enhance quality assurance in our testing services, we are also performing “interlab testing” with our competitors in the space of SANS 151 particularly on the “standing loss test” as this has been identified as a risk factor in the conformity of sample products tested in our laboratories. The first inter-laboratory comparison was conducted in August 2018 on a 100L sized geyser, where results were confirmed to be aligned with very minimal/negligible variances among the labs. Before the end of the first quarter in 2019 we plan to also conduct an interlab testing comparison exercise on a 200L size geyser.

4. Electricity Meter Laboratory

Although the SABS Electricity Metering Laboratory was one of the labs affected by the loss of environmental conditions, we can confirm that we are now operational and capable to meet customer requirements. However, in the third quarter period of 2018, the SABS NETFA facility lost, due to retirement, the resource skill responsible for Load Switch testing. We are currently re-capacitating the area through training and development of our existing resources. During this period the load switch test will be subcontracted to an international partner laboratory. We will keep you posted on developments and, as a reminder, our procedures require thatwe always attain your formal authorisation every time we subcontract work to other labs outside the SABS.

5. Appliances Laboratories

The NRCS has embarked on enforcing VC 9008 (Appliances equipment: Class B labelling requirement). We confirm that we have been fully equipped in terms of infrastructure as well as the development of testing methods to fulfil the testing requirements of SANS 941 standard in the following appliances and their associated test standards:

  • Refrigerators – SANS 62552
  • Household Electric Cooking Appliances – SANS 60350-1
  • Dishwashers – SANS 50252
  • Washing machines – SANS 1695
  • Tumble dryers – SANS 61121
  • Washer-dryer combinations – SANS 50229
  • Standby testing for AV equipment – SANS 62087

As such, with the stability of the Laboratories environmental conditions confirmed as of 08 February 2019, we also confirm that joining the Refrigerators Laboratory, the Appliances (Cooking Equipment and Dishwasher Laboratories) are ready to start testing.

Our testing capabilities and capacities for the aforementioned laboratories in the scope of SANS 941:2014 (Energy Efficiency of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) test standard are as detailed below:
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In the efforts to enhance quality assurance in our Appliances Laboratory testing space, through joint efforts with the UNDP and the DoE, we have contracted services with regards to training and technical support as benchmarked with an external service provider. We envisage that the contracted service provider will assist the SABS Appliances team to alleviate some of the “teething problems” associated with the commissioning of our new Energy Efficiency testing facilities, as well as advise on improving testing efficiencies. We have scheduled to conclude these activities duringMarch 2019.

6. Appliances Laboratories

The SABS has initiated the process of recruiting suitable and qualified senior technical skills to help improve quality and instil a continuous improvement culture and capability within the Appliances Business Unit Laboratories. We have developed an intensive on boarding and training schedule to ensure that the right candidate will be fully capable to manage the technical and client service deliverables required by you, our valued customers. We are currently working on ensuring that we have the new Principal Test Officers appointed in the SABS Appliances Business Unit by the 01 April 2019.

7. Improved communication

We are committed to effective engagement with our stakeholders and open to listening to feedback regarding your requirements, while equally ensuring that you remain informed on key business decisions and development at SABS. We are serious about ensuring that we adopt an inclusive approach and we will continue to send you business updates and ensure that we always live up to our commitments.

Please continue to share your experiences with us so that we can continue to improve our services. We are all excited to be part of this turnaround strategy and appreciate your support.

For further questions please contact:
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Slip Resistant Footwear can prevent workplace accidents

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is the only organisation in South Africa that is able to test for slip resistance in occupational and safety footwear. The state of the art machine that tests for slip resistance under various conditions was procured and operational since 2015. The safety of footwear can be validated via tests in accordance with South African National Standards (SANS), specifically SANS 20245:2014.

In some industries, such as construction and mining, it is a safety regulation that footwear cannot slip beyond a certain specification. The potential of slipping can cause severe injuries, broken bones and even death, depending on the environment and nature of the slip. Oily, greasy or wet environments require a higher degree of slip resistance than field workers or workers that need shoes designed for easier movement. The degree of slip resistance on safety footwear is required and in most industries is a compulsory basic requirement.

To ensure that footwear meets the safety and slip resistance requirements, footwear needs to be tested and the results independently verified and validated. Industries and workers who purchase safety footwear need to be able to ensure that slip resistance is tested and indicated, for safety and legal reasons. Slippage requirements differ for industries and these specifications are contained in various SANS. SANS are developed by various industry bodies and public representatives to ensure that SANS are aligned to internationally accepted standards and include South African requirements.

Slip resistance can be tested with specific equipment and in a laboratory environment. SABS regularly calibrates its test equipment to ensure that test results are accurate and valid. It is important to bear in mind that slip resistance is usually one element of a multitude of tests that include comfort and other safety features.

Some of the common types of tests that are conducted on footwear include: slip resistance; abrasion resistance; compression of toe caps; impact on toe caps; anti-static tests; interlayer bond strength; tensile strength; tear strength; flexing of upper (leather and gumboots); water vapour permeability and coefficient; and hydrolysis. These tests are done to specifications contained in various standards such as SANS 20344-7: 2014 Personal Protective Equipment; SANS 421:2017; SANS 942: 2016; SANS 1492: 2015; and SANS 1482: 2016. SANS are available for purchase via

Following a business decision in 2015 to stop ‘partial testing’, the organisation has revised its approach to include a risk based implementation of customer specific requirements (CSR). This approach will ensure that manufacturers are able to test modifications of products to SANS or for specific manufacturing specifications, or for tendering purposes. SABS has been in talks with various organisations within the footwear, textile and leather industry and are currently developing more responsive service models to ensure that industry needs are met more effectively.

In addition to revising the business model, SABS will be encouraging internships and workplace learning opportunities so that young learners are able to learn about testing in the industry. Safety footwear is 100% designated area for local content and SABS is the state appointed organisation to provide these verification services. SABS also provides consignment inspection services to ensure that batches of products are made and delivered to specifications.

Contact us:
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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

Contact us:
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Updates on SABS Turnaround strategy regarding Textiles, Leather and Footwear Laboratory

Dear Valued Client

SABS is committed to improve communication with customers and stakeholders and this letter provides information about the progress of the turnaround of our laboratory services; our focused commitment to delivering the testing services required by the textile, leather and footwear industry; and our efforts to improve service. Part of our strategy is to ensure that we keep you informed about all these developments to maintain open and transparent communication which is part of one of our core pillars, customer centricity. We have in the recent past undertaken roadshows to meet with you face to face and will continue to do so. We appreciate the valuable feedback and expectations that you shared with us during these interactions. It is against this background that we have decided to share with you our turnaround strategy of the textiles, leather and footwear laboratory in an effort to address some of the challenges you have raised with us.

1. Customer Specific Requirements (CSR)

We are pleased that the issue of ‘partial testing’ has been resolved through the introduction of testing to customer specific requirements (CSR) testing. In the letter that was send to industry last month, we committed ourselves to the re-introduction of this much needed service to you. We count on your support in this journey as we improve our service offering in line with your requirements. To this end, you are welcome to contact us with your enquiries for CSR testing services and we will within our capabilities endeavor to service your requests.

2. SANAS Accreditation

The textile, leather and footwear laboratory has limited accredited methods and as part of our turnaround, we have identified a number of additional methods to incorporate into our capability framework. We have applied to the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) to increase our scope of accreditation which has been scheduled for February 2019. We will provide further feedback on our progress in this regard.

3. SATRA membership

Following our engagements with industry bodies via our roadshows and meetings, we have already begun the membership renewal process with SATRA. The benefits of such membership will allow the SABS to have access to SATRA’s technical infrastructure, benchmark our testing capabilities with their state of the art facilities and concepts, have access to their technical experts, procure additional instrumentation to close the capability gaps, assist with training of our technicians, as well as opportunities to sub-contract testing should SABS have gaps in our capabilities or require support in managing overflow work during periods of high sample volumes. The target is to have this membership restored before 01 April 2019, the start of our new financial year.

4. Appointment of a laboratory manager

SABS has initiated the process of recruiting a suitably qualified manager to run the textile, leather and footwear laboratories. We have developed an intensive onboarding and training schedule to ensure that the right candidate will be fully capacitated to manage the technical and client service deliverables required. We are currently working on ensuring that we have the new manager commencing work by the 01 February 2019.

5. Equipment renewal programme

SABS has committed R 2 million in the current financial year to procure instrumentation that will enable our laboratory to better service your testing needs. We are planning another phase of renewal as some of our instruments need to be replaced in the period beginning 01 April 2019, with a further R 2.5 million being allocated for this project. Some of the instruments identified for this phase include:
a) Martindale (STM 633)
b) Upper water resistance (Bally Penetrometer)(STM 703)
c) Water resistance (Bally penetrometer)(STM 706)
d) Water vapour permeability (STM 473)
e) Water vapour absorption (STM478)

6. December shutdown of the SABS facilities for maintenance purposes

As you may be aware, one of the critical services required for testing operations is the availability of the required environmental conditions before testing can commence. The SABS facilities infrastructure is in need of critical maintenance to be able to ensure improved availability of the required environmental conditions to the laboratories. The Executive team approved the scheduling of this critical maintenance during the December festive period to minimise the impact to industry in the New Year. This shutdown is planned from 14 December 2018 and testing to resume on 07 January 2019. We acknowledge that this will cause some disruptions and while we will try our best to minimise disruptions, we are confident that the maintenance is enabling improved stability for testing conditions in future.

7. Improved communication

We are committed to listen and to let you know what we are doing. SABS is serious about ensuring that we adopt an inclusive approach and we will continue to send you updates. We invite you to regularly visit our website and social media pages to ensure you have access to these communications. We will soon be advertising the testing services of textile, leather and footwear in a range of trade magazines. Our state-of-the-art footwear slip test machine will be our first feature in a range of updates that we will be sharing with our customers and related stakeholders.

Please continue to share with us your experiences so that we can continue to improve our services to you. We are all excited to be part of this turnaround strategy and appreciate the support of the textiles, leather and footwear industry.

For any enquiries contact:

Petrus Shivambu
Customer Services

Yours sincerely,
Johan Louw
Executive: Laboratory Services

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.

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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: