Trojan Horse Massacre Memorial unveiled

Trojan Horse Memorial

Saturday, 24 September 2005

On 24 September 2005, Heritage Day, the Trojan Horse Memorial was unveiled in Athlone as a remembrance of the three victims who were killed by the security police on 15 October 1985. The massacre reflected the apartheid government's growing desperation to quell social unrest and protests in the townships of the Western Cape. In Athlone, the area bordered by Klipfontein Road, Belgravia Road, Thornton Road and Alexander Sinton High School, had become a gathering place of anti-apartheid protests particularly by students.

On the day of the incident, security police worked together with railway police to crush a gathering of the youth who were protesting against the apartheid government.  A South African Railways truck was loaded with crates close to the edges of the truck, but the middle part of the truck was unloaded to create space for the police to hide. The truck drove down Thornton Road to the middle of the protest with armed police hidden behind the crates. The armed police, hiding behind the crates then sprang up and opened fire, killing three young people, Jonathan Claasen, aged 21, Shaun Magmoed, aged 15, Michael Miranda, aged 11. Several others were injured.  

An inquest was launched in March 1988 to investigate the actions of the police. The magistrate ruled that the police had acted in an unreasonable way. 13 men were charged with the incident and the case was referred to the Attorney General of Cape, who refused to prosecute those who were responsible. Families of the victims launched a private prosecution which ended in the acquittal of the accused men in December 1989.

References:
• Anon. (1997) 'Transcript of Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Human Rights Violations Submissions- Questions and Answers, Ebrahim Rasool', 2 June 1997[online] Available at: www.justice.gov.za [Accessed 10 September 2010]
•  Bergman, M. 'The Trojan Horse Massacre' [online] Available at: www.athlone.co.za  [Accessed 10 September 2010]
•  Everson, C. (1985) Video footage: 'Watch the Trojan Horse Massacre' from CBS Archive [online] Available at: www.youtube.com [Accessed 10 September 2010]
•  SAPA. (1997) 'TRC sheds new light on Trojan Horse killings', 19 May 1997 [online] Available at: www.justice.gov.za [Accessed 10 September 2010]
•  Weitzer, R. and Beattie, C. (1994) Police killings in South Africa Criminal trials 1986-1992 in Policing and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, July 1994, pages 99 -117

Last updated : 14-Oct-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011