Creating Awareness in South Africa 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



The work of South African photographer Hein du Plessis plays a central part in a new resource developed by the University of Cape Town (UCT) entitled “Harmful Substances.” Discussing the initiative, termed a “mini-exhibition” by Jurgen Geitner of the University's Pathology Learning Centre, Geitner said it was now on show in the student's canteen on the UCT campus with a version accessible online at:


South Africa was unique in that it was the only country with commercially exploitable resources of the three main types of asbestos: chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue). Placing the South African experience in a geographical context, the exhibition contains a map showing the location of mines, factories, railway lines and ports. While the pathology of asbestos-related diseases constitutes a sizeable proportion of the asbestos section of the display, the faces of the injured, as shown in the black and white photographs taken by Mr. Du Plessis, are a fitting reminder of the human cost of South Africa's asbestos profits.


August 1, 2011



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