Friends, comrades, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) veterans and the ANC Youth League, held a wreath-laying ceremony on Thursday November 17, to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of MK soldier Anton Fransch.
The ceremony took place outside the Church Street house, where he died on November 17, 1989. Two years ago, a plaque was unveiled on the boundary wall of that house in remembrance of him.
Mr Fransch died after an eight-hour battle between him and the combined apartheid security forces, which was later dubbed the “Battle of Athlone”.
He was killed after a hand grenade was flung into the bedroom he was taking cover in.
Fumanekile Booi, the regional chairman of the Dullah Omar region and MK commander, said no-one could compare to Mr Fransch when it came to his knowledge of weapons at that time. “He was a specialist in firearms. It was no easy feat to fight against combined forces, but he did it all on his own. Anton is a national hero. It is not enough to talk about unity; we must build that unity within the movement,” Mr Booi said.
Basil Snayer, the uncle of another slain MK soldier, Robbie Waterwitch, and the neighbour to the house where Mr Fransch was killed, said it was heartwarming to see so many comrades attending the evening ceremony.
“There was a young UCT student, named David Govender, who lived next door to me. We didn’t really know much about him. He made sure that he was never discovered as Anton Fransch. He was disciplined, aware, and knew what his mission was. What is our mission?
“Anton was cornered here in the dead of night by a platoon of policemen. It was three hours after the shooting started that it dawned on me that it was David Govender. He died – not in a hail of bullets – as I saw a policeman throw a hand grenade into the room. We are here tonight to acknowledge an enormous sacrifice, as we, as the community, remember all those who died in the struggle.
“We acknowledge the Fransch family and the contribution they made. They must have known what he did. We acknowledge their pain, as well as the pain of those who fought alongside him. We acknowledge the pain of Nicky Asher-Pedro, as their son, Nathan Asher, was two years old when Anton died.
“It is not easy for anyone to lose someone in that way. Our mission is to ensure that people like Coline Williams, Robbie Waterwitch, Ashley Kriel and Anton did not lose their lives in vain,” Mr Snayer said.
When asked if Anton would be happy with the situation in the country today, Ms Asher-Pedro said he would be angered at the state of affairs. “Our leadership is no example after 22 years of democracy. Nathan is very proud of his father, although he cannot remember him. However, his legacy lives on in the work Nathan does. Anton believed in justice, and Nathan works with troubled youth to get them away from gangsterism and drugs. Anton was a gift from God, and Nathan’s name means ‘gift from God’, and he sure is a gift from God,” Ms Asher-Pedro said.