Asbestos Relief Trust Marks 10 Year Anniversary


The Asbestos Relief Trust (ART), which was founded to provide adequate compensation for qualifying persons suffering with asbestos related diseases, yesterday held its milestone 10th annual general meeting.

An important fact noted by the ART is that even a decade after asbestos mining ceased, those affected by the industry continue to suffer its effects, including asbestos-related diseases and continued high-risk exposure to asbestos dust. Therefore, the 10th anniversary of the ART, which has been at the front line of the issue, offered a good opportunity to reflect on the continued impact of asbestos mining and what still needs to be done for those afflicted.

As part of this process, the ART released a short history of the organisation, detailing how the Trust was setup: including the claims and administrative processes required, the medico-legal processes and the involvement with community programmes in order to sustain the effective working of the Trust.

“Given that South African workers, specifically mineworkers, have been exposed to many different occupational diseases and that many workers are now seeking recourse through the courts, such as in the case of the pending silicosis lawsuits we felt that given the success of the ART, it would be a valuable exercise to set down the processes, challenges in set-up and achievements of the Trust. We hope that the learning curve experienced by the ART, will provide valuable guidance to relevant stakeholders among workers and the mining industry going forward.

In addition, the documenting of the ART history, pays tribute to the hundreds of workers and other individuals from mining communities, who have died from asbestos-related diseases”, said Chairman of the ART, Piet van Zyl.

The ART also announced the appointment of two new Trustees to its board. They are Mr Connie Molusi and Mr Meshack Silinda. This brings to seven the number of Trustees on the Board. 

To date, the Asbestos Relief Trust has paid approximately R257,7 million to 3,667 workers who were employed by or persons who lived within the vicinity of the mines owned by Gefco and ACA , or their dependent family members.  Some claimants who were diagnosed with asbestosis have since developed an asbestos related cancer and have successfully lodged a second claim.  The Trust has processed over 14,500 applications, of which roughly 30% were for asbestos-related diseases.

The Trust remains an international benchmark for sustainable workers’ compensation that effectively fulfils the terms of its Trust Deed. 

 The ART also arranged a series of talks to commemorate its 10 year anniversary which took place at the Wits School of Public Health in Johannesburg ahead of the AGM.  Among the issues covered in the seminar was a talk by Professor Jim Phillips of the National Institute for Occupational Health.Professor Phillips spoke on the issue of current asbestos exposure, where and why it is still occurring. The issue of the continued exposure of communities to asbestos from secondary sources of pollution remain a sad reality and one that requires partnership from government and business but also advocacy on the part of civil organisations to resolve.

Dr Gill Nelson of Wits University also spoke on Predicting Mesothelioma Incidence near Kuruman (the MINKS study), which will inform the work of the ART going forward. The difficulties and dilemmas in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma were highlighted by a number of speakers. Professor Rodney Ehrlich of the University of Cape Town ended the talks by reflecting on the challenges facing compensation regimens in South Africa.

For more information: please contact:

Charlene Dennis

Firefly Consulting