Engineering acumen gets him going
Growing up in his home village of Mogaladi in Limpopo, Arnold Hlaku was a nuisance to his parents, stealing parts from their radio to explore.
Today, the 21-year-old is the talk of Phomolong in Mamelodi East because of an electric toy car he has built using wires, cardboard boxes and parts collected from dumping sites.
The car uses two motors, one to pull the rear wheels and the other to turn the front wheels.
Hlaku uses two levers attached to a hand-held control device to operate the car, which is complete with headlights powered by a cellphone battery.
"I use the levers to turn the car, to drive it forward or to reverse it. For wheels I used Vicks containers which I covered with rubber for a better grip to the ground," he explained.
Hlaku said his passion for electronics was ignited by his uncle who survived by fixing household electronic appliances, and he used the parts his uncle discarded to motorise his toy car.
The first model car he built did not turn or reverse and he worked tirelessly to improve it and was ultimately able to achieve this with his latest creation.
What he is working on now is for the car to be battery-operated and for the control device to be cordless.
"All I need is material and I can do it. I will attach laser like the one used in remote controls for the car to communicate with the control panel."
Hlaku, who matriculated from Molwetsi Secondary School in 2016, said he believed he could create anything electronic but the biggest challenge was material.
Though he did not do science or mathematics at high school, he said he can fix any electronic device.
"I can diagnose a problem with, say, a microwave oven just by looking at it," he said.
Hlaku's uncle Naphtali Mamaile, 39, said his nephew was always interested in electronics, even at a very young age.
"His curiosity when it comes to electric devices always landed him in trouble with his parents because he would take out parts from a working appliance to explore.
"I wish that he could get someone or an electronics manufacturing company to take him under their wing for him to live out of his gift."