Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers for free software

Date: April 27, 2006
By: Richad Frank

Kgabo Sepuru says he's passionate about freedom, and it shows. He's been a software developer for nearly 15 years and is one of the driving forces behind free and open source software in South Africa's most famous apartheid-township, Soweto.

The township just south of Johannesburg is famous for producing great revolutionaries, and Sepuru -- referred to as a "Richard Stallman in dreadlocks" by CSIR Open Source Centre head Nhlanhla Mabaso -- may be the next one. He has ideas as big as his hairstyle, and speaks of technology as the key to economic growth in South Africa.

"Our economy is crumbling right now because there is a limit to access to information," he says. South Africa's economy is of course, doing quite well, but Seperu says it takes one trip to his childhood home near Polokwane in Limpopo Province to see differently. There, some families only live on R170 a month -- a basic child grant issued by the government -- says Sepuru. "It's devastating ... I look at that and say it's useless that I know anything about technology [if] I cannot translate that to my own people."

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