App minuses minibus stress

A new web based app is taking the stress out of front seat taxi travel by doing all the calculations for you.


FRONT SEAT FOR DUMMIES: New app Phambili is making taxi travel less stressful for commuters.                                       Photo: Thembisile Dzonzi


If you’ve ever been in a Johannesburg taxi, you would know how daunting the task is of sitting in front and counting the fare. Even with advanced arithmetic skills, calculating change for 15 people can be daunting.

The rule is commuters who sit in front are tasked with calculating the fare for the rest of the passengers. Now, thanks to a new app called Phambili, the front seat pressure is off.
Phambili is giving the taxi industry a much needed digital face lift and making the travel experience less stressful for commuters.

Phambili allows the user to enter the taxi fare for the trip. The app then adds the number of people that have paid and the amount they have paid. Using the details provided, Phambili calculates the change and tells the user how much the driver’s money will be in total.

The app has also recently been improved with a multiple calculation platform that allows it to calculate for trips with two fares.

According to logistics company Afta Robot, the South African minibus taxi industry is serviced by more than 300,000 vehicles transporting more than 14-million daily passengers.

Phambili is also a building a database of routes and their costs.

Access the app on their website www.

You can also take their “return change challenge” to see how the app works.

Witsies take on App Challenge

Tanisha Heiberg

Aniss Krid, Gary Bezuidenhout, Elishahidi Mvungi,  and Linda Khumaloat (from left) were part of the winning team at the DIZSparks App Challenge. They created the Gig Guide app for students to find events near them based on their interests. Photo: Provided

Aniss Krid, Gary Bezuidenhout, Elishahidi Mvungi, and Linda Khumaloat (from left) were part of the winning team at the DIZSparks App Challenge. They created the Gig Guide app for students to find events near them based on their interests. Photo: Provided


A group of Wits students have won the DizSparks app competition after creating a new app for students.

Aniss Krid, Elishahidi Mvungi, Gary Bezuidenhout and Linda Khumalo created the Gig guide app where events, parties and social activities can be advertised for easy access to students through specific categories.

The Wits Locate and  I’m Interested apps were also announced under the top three at the Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) in Braamfontein.

These students formed part of the 16 applicants who took part in the month long DIZ Sparks campaign, aimed at helping to develop the app creation skills of students from diverse backgrounds.

The challenge was conducted in association with iAfrika and included not only Wits University students but anyone who wanted to take part in the competition.

Event co-ordinator, Xoliswa Nahlangu explained that the campaign was not only to train the students in app development, “The competition was done to introduce the Wits varsity students to DIZ”

DIZ is a digital technology hub for the greater Johannesburg area that is open to all students and start-ups.

The applicants were tasked with creating new Apps, from design to formation, that can be added to the WitsM mobile apps as well as be available to  be re-used at other tertiary institutions and App stores.

The applicants ideas were presented to a panel of judges led by Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, the director of JCSE at Wits University. The panel investigated whether there was a demand for the app in a student market and presented the winners with an Apple iPad Air.

The challenge provided mentors as well as commercial App developers who helped the students in their month long task that began in the conception stage, which involved unpacking the usefulness of the app for potential users. From there the applicants could refine their ideas before beginning to build a prototype of their app, with the help of experts in the field.

The challenge helped the students to come up with ideas but also to create apps that appeal to the market said Nahlangu.

The public was also invited to a Learnathon where they could learn more about how to create apps and the tools involved.

Nahlangu spoke about the importance of developing mobile app creation skills in South Africa, “There is a huge market … companies have realized that they need to be on a mobile platform in Africa… not everyone has internet access, but people have access to internet on their phones.”

Want to avoid someone? There’s an app for that!


HIDING OUT: The Split app helps you avoid people by using geo-location information from social media sites. Photo: Tracey Ruff

Social media has made connecting with people really simple and easy but what if you don’t really feel like bumping into your crazy ex the next time you step out?

Responding to the need for people to avoid each other at times, a new mobile phone app called ‘Split’, was released last week. The app makes use of information from social media websites, using geo-location data, to alert the user when someone they are trying to avoid is within their vicinity.

[pullquote align=”right”]”What if I’m in a relationship, but my boyfriend uses it and finds out I’m with my second boyfriend?”[/pullquote]

Udi Dagan, the app’s creator, came up with the idea after a night out ended in an uncomfortable scenario for him. “The idea for Split was born on a frustrating night, about two years ago, when I ran into my ex-girlfriend in a bar,” he told “After a few awkward minutes, I hurriedly gathered my friends out of there and into another pub down the street, where I literally bumped into another ex … not a good night.”

The app, available free for iOS and Android devices, uses geo-location information from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare of the people you want to avoid and alerts you when they are nearby. It also suggests an escape route on a map for you to make your get away, and even notifies you if they are attending the same Facebook events as you.

“I think it’s really cool!” said Lethabo Kutumela, a first-year BComm Accounting student from the University of Johannesburg. “It’s something lots of people would want to have. I’d use it if I had a fight with my boyfriend, or if I was trying to avoid a stalker.”

The app does raise questions about privacy, however, as it provides the location and movements of people without notifying them in any way.

“I never want that app,” said Semkelisiwe Makhoba, a first year Film and Production student at Wits. “It’s too personal; people will know where I am and what I’m doing. It could also get you into trouble. What if I’m in a relationship, but my boyfriend uses it and finds out I’m with my second boyfriend?”

Split is not the first anti-social app to become available. A similar app called Cloak was released a few weeks before Split and offered the same opportunities to avoid people, although it only used information from Foursquare and Instagram.