Trojan Horse Massacre site in Cape Town declared a provincial heritage site

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The Trojan Horse Massacre site on Thornton Road in Athlone, Cape Town, has been classified as a provincial heritage site.

Three young people were killed by apartheid police on October 15, 1985, when they shot live ammunition into a crowd of anti-apartheid activists.

Heritage Western Cape says it wants the names of those who lost their lives to be remembered and honoured for their role in fighting the unjust apartheid government.

It was shortly before 5 pm on that fateful October afternoon, at the height of the state of emergency, students and young people were protesting the apartheid government.

A railway truck, carrying members of the police and defence forces, hidden behind crates drove into Thornton Road. They performed a reconnaissance exercise and returned, firing live ammunition, without warning, when protesters began hurling stones at the truck.

21-year-old Jonathan Claasen, a former street child, 15-year-old Shaun Magmoed, the elder of two siblings and 11-year-old Michael Miranda, were killed. Fifteen others including Miranda’s cousin were injured.

“The three who died in 1985 were Michael, Shaun and Jonathan and what is important about this heritage site is that we remember their legacy as a provincial heritage site. We want this history and heritage to be internalised by the public to be memorialised and act as a site of reflection,” says Michael Janse van Rensburg, Heritage Western Cape CEO.

Learners from among others, Athlone and Alexander Sinton High school attended the unveiling. They are lobbying for a number of schools in the area to be declared heritage sites for the roles the students of that time played in forging South Africa’s democracy.

“It’s very important that we know that this will never happen again in the future and it is for the uprising of the youth in the 1980s against apartheid especially the apartheid regime and for us, it’s to remind us of the struggle of our young people in a very terrible time in our history and that it mustn’t happen again in the future,” says Anroux Marais, Western Cape MEC Cultural Affairs and Sport.

An inquest into the deaths in 1988 found that the police action was unreasonable but those involved were not prosecuted.

A private prosecution launched by the families was unsuccessful the following year and till today none of the members of the task force which killed Classsen, Magmoed and Miranda were ever brought to book.

The heritage plaque will be erected at the site soon.