The Conflict with Renamo
March 1979

Dossier MZ-0020

The Attack on the Beira Oil Storage Tanks
23 March 1979

The blowing-up of the Beira oil storage tanks at Munhava was a major propaganda coup for the MNR, even though it was the SAS that to all intents and purposes planned it and carried it out. A detailed narrative, including a sketch map, is given on pages 260-270 of Barbara Cole's book The elite: the story of the Rhodesian Special Air Service (Amanzimtoti: Three Knights, 1984). It is clear from her account that the military role played by the MNR guides in the attack was minimal – indeed, one of the Rhodesian commanders was decorated with the Silver Cross for his part in the assault, an explicit recognition that it was a Rhodesian operation. The very fact that Cole devotes ten pages in a book on the SAS to what was allegedly a major MNR success also gives the game away. Despite this, the Rhodesian and South African propaganda machines were able to make large claims as a result of this attack.

Decoration

Early March
Machel's rebel problem. Daily Telegraph date uncertain, probably March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [122 Kb].

26 March
The 23rd March attack on oil depots near Beira. Rádio Moçambique and other radio stations reported by Summary of World Broadcasts no. ME/6076, 26 March 1979, page B/5. Click here to view or download a PDF file [166 Kb].

26 March
Oil tank attacks claimed by rebels in Mozambique. Washington Post, 26 March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [108 Kb].

26 March
[South Africa rushes to the aid of Mozambique]. Summary of World Broadcasts no.ME/6076, 26 March 1979, page B/6. South African fire crews assisted in quenching the blaze. Click here to view or download a PDF file [206 Kb].

27 March
6 fuel tanks destroyed by fire in Mozambique. Washington Post, 27 March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [105 Kb].

27 March
Christopher Munnion. Mozambique made S. Africa firemen accuse Rhodesia. Daily Telegraph [London], 27 March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [150 Kb].

27 March
We caused Beira fire – resistance group. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 27 March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [117 Kb].

28 March
The 23rd March attack on oil depots near Beira. Voz da África Livre and other radio stations, 24-26 March, reported by Summary of World Broadcasts, 28 March 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [126 Kb].

Land Rover destroyed in ambush by MNR / Renamo, 1979

Above: a Land Rover destroyed during an unspecified MNR ambush. This photograph was published in Tempo no.439, 4 March 1979, page 26.

29 March
Claims by Mozambique dissident group on operations carried out. Voz da África Livre on 26 March, reported by Summary of World Broadcasts, 29 March 1979. Includes a claim that the FPLM panicked during the defence of the oil depot and killed "many innocent civilians". Click here to view or download a PDF file [201 Kb].

31 March
FPLM communiqué on the Beira oil depot attack. Rádio Moçambique on 29 March reported by Summary of World Broadcasts, 31 March 1979. Text of a communiqué from the Estado Maior of the FPLM. Click here to view or download a PDF file [209 Kb].

Decoration