Global Asbestos Awareness Event - Standing together against asbestos


The Asbestos Interest Group (AIG) is a non-profit organisation based in Kuruman in the Northern Cape. It is responsible for ­creating awareness about asbestos and identifying asbestos in local communities in the Northern Cape and North West provinces. The organisation is funded by the Asbestos Relief and Kgalagadi Relief Trusts (ART and KRT) as part of their social responsibility project.

On 3 April 2019, the AIG facilitated an event titled Standing together against asbestos at the Gamopedi village community hall. This was the third Global Asbestos Awareness Event hosted by AIG. The turnout was excellent – 130 community members from Gamopedi, Ncweng, Pietbos and Lokaleng villages attended.


Lighting candles

The AIG staff lit three candles during the event. A white ‘Candle of Hope’ was lit to give hope to those who are affected by asbestos-related diseases; the hope is that, one day, there will be a cure for asbestos-related diseases. A yellow ‘Candle of Courage’ was lit to give courage and strength to those who are bedridden, and those who are taking care of patients with asbestos-related diseases. A navy blue ‘Candle of Comfort’ was lit to give comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones because of asbestos-related diseases.

Mrs L. Mereotlhe presenting the ‘Candle of Hope’ for the victims of asbestos-related diseases Photograph: Gomolemo Olehile



Sr Magabanyane from the ART spoke about the background of asbestos pollution in Kuruman, how people get exposed to asbestos, the danger of asbestos, and the asbestos-related diseases - asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. She gave a detailed explanation about the formation of the ART, and its function, and told the attendees about the role of Richard Spoor in the formation of the ART. She then presented the claim processes of the ART and KRT, and the difference between an occupational and an environmental claim. She encouraged community members to make wills, as these help a lot in estate claims.

Mr T Letlhoane spoke about the formation of the One Stop Centre, the services it renders, and the importance of having regular medical examinations. He also presented the process of lodging a claim with the Medical Bureau of Occupational Diseases (MBOD), information about the documents required to undergo a medical examination, and information about who can make enquiries about the claim if an ex-miner has passed on. He encouraged the community to access the free X-ray service at the One Stop Centre.

Sr P Molema provided information about the Cancer Charity Workers organisation and its objectives. She provided information about the services rendered to cancer patients, and spoke about the different kinds of cancers, and their treatment and side effects. She encouraged the community to support people with cancer, as the disease affects the family and the community as a whole. She said it is important to regularly visit patients with cancer, and to listen to their concerns, fears and daily challenges.

Mr L Mogatle, a prosector who works in Kuruman, spoke about the importance and benefits of a post-mortem examination. He provided information about the documents needed for a post-mortem examination to be conducted, and the post-mortem procedure. He also emphasised that post-mortem examinations are available for all ex-miners, and encouraged the community to request post-mortem examination of the organs of their deceased family members.

Throughout the presentations, the community was very attentive, asked relevant questions and was very cooperative.

Mr K Seameco, Headman of Gamopedi village, said that he was very grateful for the information rendered to the community. The chief said that the AIG must keep talking and giving the right information, and he wished AIG growth and prosperity in their objectives.


Information provided

The following information was handed out to attendees of the event:

• The claim processes of the ART and KRT

• Asbestos kills – pamphlets

• Lung diseases and work – pamphlets

• Asbestos and asbestos-related diseases – booklets

• Prostate cancer – pamphlets

• Breast cancer – pamphlets

• Lung cancer – pamphlets


The AIG thank the ART and the KRT for their contributions to this event, which was a huge success. The event strengthened the AIG’s ongoing campaign and awareness activities around Kuruman. The AIG hopes to continue spreading awareness about asbestos to different communities.


Report by:
Prudence Kotoloane
Asbestos Interest Group, Kuruman 


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