The Conflict with Renamo
October 1981

Dossier MZ-0020

Attempted Railway Sabotage and Bridges Destroyed

In October 1981, Mozambican media reported that three South Africans had been killed in a skirmish while trying to blow up the Beira railway. The report was summarily dismissed by the South African regime as ‘lying propaganda … typical of the African pattern’. Unhappily for the South Africans this particular pigeon eventually – although rather slowly – came home to roost, when the London Sunday newspaper the Observer revealed in its edition of 20 February 1983 that one of the men was a British mercenary named Alan Gingles. In this dossier for October 1981, none of this subsequent information was yet available; there are only reports that the men had been killed.

The sensational book Inside BOSS by Gordon Winter was published by Penguin Books in London. In the book, Winter, certainly not the most reliable of sources, nevertheless describes himself as the MNR’s main propagandist (pages 545-553):

I know all about this movement because I was its number one propagandist right from the start. It was the most successful clandestine operation ever mounted by Pretoria. Its name was the ‘Mozambique National Resistance’ (MNR) and when I first started glorifying its exploits in July 1977 it existed in name only. The sabotage attacks it was supposed to have made inside Mozambique were secretly carried out by the South African Army’s ‘Reconnaissance Commando’, a crack unit of tough and specially trained commandos formed in August 1975. This unit was led by Commandant Jan Breytenbach …

This obviously contradicts the Rhodesian accounts in significant ways.

Two bridges over the Pungue river were also blown up in October, and it was announced that Adriano Bomba’s MiG fighter would be returned to Mozambique by the South Africans.

Decoration

1977 1978 September 1981

October 1981
Paul Fauvet. Mozambique: the RNM’s lingering war. Africa Now [London], October 1981. Argues that although the Mozambican National Resistance has been contained by Frelimo, Pretoria keeps the movement alive. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 217 kb.

2 October 1981
Fernando Lima. Crónica: o MNR ou mais uma face da agressão. Notícias [Maputo], 2 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 130 kb.

13 October 1981
Evelyn Holtzhausen. After six years, a black pilot. Natal Mercury [Durban], 13 October 1981. Comment on the case of Adriano Bomba. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 126 kb.

16 October 1981
Don Marshall. New front: eyes on Mozambique. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 16 October 1981. Argues, from a statement by Magnus Malan, that South African armed forces could soon be involved in fighting along the Mozambican border (the ‘Beirut’ option). Click here to view or download a PDF, size 109 kb.

24 October 1981
Três militares boers abatidos em Manica: racistas preparavam-se para minar via fé:rrea. Notícias [Maputo], 24 October 1981. The first report of the attack in which the Ulsterman Alan Gingles was killed, and which was fully reported for the first time only in February 1983 in the London Observer. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 151 kb.

24 October 1981
Don Marshall. Bomba’s plane to return to Maputo. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 24 October 1981. The story adds that Bomba and his brother have been given permission to stay in South Africa, with work permits. The aging MiG-17 presumably offered little new intelligence. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 95 kb.

26 October 1981
S[outh] Africans killed in rail sabotage attempt in Mozambique. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6863, 26 October 1981, p.B/1. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 258 kb.

26 October 1981
[Untitled story on railway sabotage]. Daily News [Dar es Salaam], 26 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 105 kb.

26 October 1981
Joseph Hanlon. White man killed while trying to blow up Beira railway: South Africa accused of sabotage. Guardian [London], 26 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 139 kb.

29 October 1981
Ada Stuijt. Bomba tells SA of training by Reds. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 29 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 262 kb.

30 October 1981
Sabotadas duas pontes sobre o rio Púngoè. Notícias [Maputo], 30 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 41 KB.

30 October 1981
Joseph Hanlon. Key bridge destroyed. Guardian [London], 30 October 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 16 kb.

31 October 1981
Mozambican report of S[outh] African intelligence agent’s book. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6868, 31 October 1981, p.B/6. About Gordon Winter's book Inside Boss. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 95 kb.

Decoration