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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

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) – Shutdown of SABS Groenkloof for maintenance

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies MP, appointed three Administrators as the Accounting Authority to do a diagnostic analysis of the current situation of the SABS and to develop and implement a turn-around strategy. This investigation uncovered, inter alia, that a critical impediment of the SABS not being able to provide adequate service to our customers was due to its aged plant infrastructure and inadequate preventative maintenance over the recent years, which adversely affects laboratory conditions and negatively impacts testing capacity.

As part of the SABS turn-around plan, the institution needs to conduct emergency repairs to ensure continued stable laboratory conditions. These critical repairs will require a shutdown of the plant room and no testing services will be available during this period. To minimise the impact to you our valuable customer, this emergency repairs will be conducted between 14 December 2018 to 7 January 2019.

The Administrators have also set aside additional funds to completely upgrade this aged plant infrastructure and the work will commence in 2019 with minimum disruptions.

For any enquiries contact:

Petrus Shivambu
Customer Services

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: