Phiroshaw Camay Virtual Asbestos Library to be launched



In remembrance of Mr Phiroshaw Camay’s contribution to the fight against asbestos and diseases associated with exposure, the Kgalagadi Relief Trust (KRT) and the Asbestos Relief Trust (ART), in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), is setting up a virtual library in his name. This is fitting in that Mr Camay started his working career as a librarian. Phiroshaw Camay (or PC) passed away on 1 October 2016, and was featured in an obituary in the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of this Journal.

 The Phiroshaw Camay Virtual Asbestos Library (PC-VAL) will be comprised of literature concerned with asbestos in southern Africa. The topics will include asbestos-related disease; mining, milling and production of asbestos; manufacture of asbestos products; the geology of asbestos in the environment and the workplace; legislation; regulations; and best practice recommendations. The PC-VAL will be in the public domain and searchable to allow easy and quick access to the materials.

PC started his working life as a librarian in the Johannesburg City Council, where he became involved in the trade union movement. As General Secretary of the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA), he famously recruited Cyril Ramaphosa into their legal department.1 CUSA was later renamed the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU). His lifelong friend, Ebrahim Harvey, recalls that he played a leading role in the trade union unity talks: “But, influenced more by the thinking of the Pan Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness Movement, CUSA did not join the largely ANC- and Freedom Charter-aligned unions that constituted COSATU at its birth in 1985.” PC resigned from NACTU in 1989, after failing to get the federation to support the Harare Declaration, in which the ANC set the terms for negotiations with the, then, Nationalist Party. He formed the Co-operative for Research and Education (Core) in 1990, a non-governmental organisation that facilitated the publication of progressive materials to strengthen his great passion, civil society. He then served as Chairman of the Rand Water Board for some years, an experience he remembered with little affection.

PC served as a Trustee of the KRT from its inception in 2006, and as Chair from 2012 to 2016. He was also a Trustee of the KRT’s sister organisation, the Asbestos Relief Trust (ART), from 2005, and served as Chair from 2006 to 2008.

Colleagues will remember his incisive analytical mind. Intensely private about his own life, PC was a man of the public, who never lost sight of the poor and under-resourced members of our society.



1. Butler A. Cyril Ramaphosa. Johannesburg: Jacana; 2007.


Report by:

Angel Mzoneli

Head: Information Services

National Institute for Occupational Health

National Health Laboratory Service

Download this Article


Email address
Forgot password?