A humble and adventurous Mohalatsi Mabilietse is a Central University of Technology (CUT) student in Free State who has a very small physique. Throughout the years, the 2nd year IT student relied on his sister and friends to drive him around. The Philindaba, Bloemfontein born is a height of 4.6 feet, modern life became a burden to him, as driving a normal car was a challenge. The length of his feet meant that he could not reach the pedals of a car, which made driving impossible for someone in his state.
Mohalatsi signifies many students with disability in higher education institutions who through various circumstances have been disadvantaged from driving a normal car. Several of them are at risk of causing fatal accidents if they continue to drive cars unassisted.
Desperate to improve and change his day-to-day ordeal, he approached Product Development Technology Station (PDTS) and the Technology Innovation Agency also known as TIA, with an idea of extended pedals. He explained it to Kamohelo Mokoena, Mechanical Engineering graduate from CUT who recommended he drew a proposal and submit it to PDTS for consideration.
“This great idea was inspired by the student himself. He approached and explained his idea to us and kindly asked if we could manufacture the pedal extension for him, which was a great, but challenging experience”, said Mr Ludrick Barnard who heads a team of young and innovative minds.
“We researched on the idea and came up with the concepts and design. I mentored my intern on what and how it should be done,” he concluded.
Mokoena started modelling the idea and came up with a perfect product that enlightened the student. With the help of PDTS, Mabilietse is able to drive himself anywhere without hassle.
Today, he drives himself around the streets of Bloemfontein and from home to campus. “I am pleased and grateful for the wonderful work that PDTS has done for me. It has helped me a lot. I do not depend on people to take me from A to Z now. I am independent and enjoying every moment,” said Mabilietse.
The idea of these extended pedals is the first of its kind in the country and can make CUT stand proud at the lead of innovation for the country’s motor industry. “We used six millimetres of normal steel plate (which a person can use if he wants to go into mass market), carbon fibre, canopy clips, and rubber. The total cost for the material was between R500 and R700,” said Mokoena.
We always say “it’s each man for himself” at varsity, but clearly the spirit of Ubuntu still exists amongst CUT students. We applaud such doings and we need more people like you in our communities.