The commemoration of the Trojan Horse Massacre. Picture: Lulama Zenzile
The commemoration of the Trojan Horse Massacre. Picture: Lulama Zenzile

Trojan Horse Massacre in Athlone documented in new UCT film

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 15, 2020

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Cape Town - It is 35 years since the infamous Trojan Horse Massacre in Athlone and a similar incident in Crossroads a day later when five youths were killed by apartheid security forces.

To commemorate the tragedies, UCT will release a documentary on those fateful days. The incident in which security forces shot and killed three youngsters on the corner of St Simon’s and Thornton roads in Athlone will be documented today on the university’s website.

At least 28 people were arrested at the time, 13 of whom were charged with public violence, although all were acquitted.

The next day, October 16, 1985, the same modus operandi was used in Crossroads, where two youths were shot and killed. Mabhuti Fatman, 20, and Mengxwane Mali, 19, were playing soccer in the road when a truck drove by, with security forces officers hidden in a crate.

The incident in which security forces shot and killed three youngsters on the corner of St Simon’s and Thornton roads in Athlone will be documented today on the university’s website. Picture: Supplied

Human Sciences Research Council​ chief executive Crain Soudien said they had depended on the testimonies of witnesses to tell the story of the Trojan Horse Massacre.

“The recordings now still are absolutely incredible. The material that is available on it is incredibly revealing, seeing those trucks and the trucks were formed going up and down the road,” Soudien said.

“So we now know, because that wasn’t available to us at the time, that this was a planned event.

“I remember, we would have meetings of organisations at that particular time, and the loss of life was a hell of a thing,"

Martha Evans of UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies said the police’s plan was to suppress uprising in the area by entering the area in a SA Railways vehicle.

At the time, Evans added, it was quite difficult for them to get into communities in police vehicles because the police were so unpopular.

“So their plan was to get into the community in a SA Railways truck and to arrest ringleaders of uprisings and protests that were occurring at the time.”

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais said the Trojan Horse Massacre characterised the "tumultuous past and the horrific incidents of an unjust system", which should be acknowledged to inform future generations so as "to prevent its recurrence of any kind, as there exists no space for it in a democratic society".

“Today more than ever, commemorations of this nature are essential to build an emotional framework to make sense of our divided past,” said Marais.

She said cultural affairs and sport built trust, which was needed "to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current and past barriers and obstacles, with dynamic and innovative approaches needed to understand the values that were embedded in any process of transformation".

Marais said that way, "they together promote the social inclusion of all who call the Western Cape home".

Cape Argus

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