The Trojan Horse Massacre

Trojan Horse Memorial in Athlone. Source: www.farm4.static.flickr.com

Tuesday, 15 October 1985

In Athlone, Cape Town, Western Province (now Western Cape), the area bordered by Klipfontein Road, Belgravia Road, Thornton Road and Alexander Sinton High School became a gathering place for anti-apartheid protests, particularly by students. On 15 October 1985, members of the security forces shot and killed three young people who were part of anti-government demonstrations. On the day of the incident, Security and Railway police worked together to crush a gathering of youth who were protesting against the apartheid government. This incident became known as the Trojan Horse Massacre. 

A South African Railways truck was loaded with crates close to the edges all around the back with the middle unloaded to create space for the police to hide. The truck drove down Thornton Road to middle of the protest with armed police hidden behind the crates. Then the armed police, hiding behind the crates sprang up and opened fire killing three young people, Jonathan Claasen, aged 21, Shaun Magmoed, aged 15, Michael Miranda, aged 11 and injuring several others.

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. Thirteen 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.

Last updated : 14-Oct-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 21-Oct-2013

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