845A.2547/9–1650: Telegram

The Chargé in South Africa ( Connelly ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

86. Absence Secretary External Affairs Forsyth, on leave, assistant chief Political Division Sole told me since original approach security measures South African manganese production had been made Ambassador Jooste, External Affairs telegraphed Jooste last week to inform Department.1

Matter had been taken up with Railways and Harbors Board which reported had full list vulnerable spots and had everything under control.
Union Secret Service was aware sabotage possibilities no danger at present and felt itself capable handling any subversive or sabotage threats.
Union appreciated US offer provide information re counter sabotage measures and if written form would be glad have it.

We consider written information more acceptable Union authorities (Deptel 28, August 242) because (1) present Nationalist Government only in power for two years extremely proud its achievements, resentful any outside unrequested offer assistance and newly set up Secret Service unwilling admit cannot fully handle whatever occurs. This follows from mentality Afrikaners who after nearly 150 years under British oriented governments now have come into their own and intend to do as they please. We recognize these growing pains but feel present government naive re dangers possible sabotage and personal visit expert desirable. Accordingly suggest after receipt minerals attaché’s report, matter be reviewed possibly with Jooste [and in?] light instruction Ambassador3 take up with Prime Minister. Minerals attaché report goes forward next courier leaving about September 19 and indicates (1) no security measures taken versus possible sabotage manganese producing area (2) possible serious curtailment manganese production mines through sabotage remote (3) but single unguarded key bridge railway from production area to Kimberly is vulnerable to sabotage, if destroyed would bring manganese shipments destined seaports for export virtual standstill for some months.

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Despatch4 will recommend (1) discussions most appropriate way Union Government guard bridge (2) further discussions re guarding dynamite magazines and tighter control sales dynamite (3) report by American Consul Durban on manganese conveyor belt loading plant that port which now believed somewhat vulnerable sabotage both from point view easy access and curtailment total volume manganese exports.

  1. South African First Secretary W. Dirkse-van-Schalkwyk called at the Department of State on December 4 to present certain information received from his government concerning the security of manganese production and transport in South Africa. (Memorandum of conversation by J. H. Shullaw, December 4, 1950: 845A.2547/12–450)
  2. Not printed. It asked why written information on American security techniques was more acceptable to South African authorities than a special visit by American officials. (845A.2547/7–2550)
  3. Ambassador-designate John G. Erhardt arrived in Pretoria on September 19.
  4. Reference here is to despatch 151, September 18, from Pretoria, on the subject of the possibility for sabotage of South African manganese production (845A.2547/9–1850).