Blaster (flamethrower)

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Blaster
Type Flamethrower, Anti Carjacking Device
Place of origin  South Africa
Production history
Designer Charl Fourie
Designed 1998
Number built Several hundred
Specifications
Maximum firing range 2 meter flame

The Blaster (also called the "BMW Flamethrower") was a 1998 invention by South African inventor Charl Fourie designed to provide a defence against carjackings.

The invention came in response to the increasingly severe violent crime situation in South Africa, which in 1998 had already made the country (particularly Johannesburg) the per capita murder, assault, rape and carjacking capital of the world.[1] The Blaster was a liquefied petroleum gas flamethrower installed along the sides of the vehicle under the doors. Should a group of carjackers suddenly attack the vehicle while it is stopped in traffic (the typical scenario), the occupant could flip a switch and direct 5 metre plumes of flame upward into the facial area of anyone trying to enter the vehicle through the doors or windows. Fourie claims it is unlikely to kill but would "definitely blind" the assailant. In South Africa, it is legal to use lethal force in self-defence if in fear of one's life, and ownership of flamethrowers is unrestricted.[citation needed]

The device was controversial in South Africa, with some (including the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)) speculating that the device might cause more carjackers to simply murder drivers with gunfire as a precautionary measure before approaching the vehicle, a tactic which was already fairly common.

In any case, the device was not banned (as is sometimes reported), but the high price tag limited its market and made it unprofitable. By 2001, only a few hundred had been sold, and the device was taken off the market by Fourie, who instead started marketing a less expensive pocket-sized "personal flamethrower".[2] 2009 statistics report the murder rate in South Africa has decreased by nearly 50% since 1999, but the assault rate has stayed steady and the carjacking and rape rates have actually increased, remaining the highest per capita in the world,[3] and there is still some use of Blaster-equipped vehicles in Johannesburg and elsewhere.

The Blaster received ample (and often satirical) media coverage from abroad. In particular, it earned its inventor the 1999 Ig Nobel Peace Prize (a parody of the real Nobel Prizes).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "South African Crime statistics 1999-2000". Nationmaster.com. 
  2. ^ Fourie, Charl (2001-02-13). Abc.net.au. Interview with Sara Sally. AM (ABC Radio). 
  3. ^ "Crime, Security in SA". Iol.co.za. 

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