Justice Européene, "Attentats sur le Thiès-Niger"
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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The Governor of Senegal travelled by train from Dakar to Saint Louis on October 23, 1925. His train reached kilometer 249.100 around 15h30 (just before Saint Louis), where they had to stop to remove a pair of rails laid across the right of way. The police were not sure if this was an act of sabotage or worker carelessness.
Police officer Duchene was responsible for stopping a series of thefts at the railroad station at Diourbel, presumed to be the work of members of the Service de Traction. He ordered the Africans in the Service de Traction to stay out of the Halle Petite Vitesse where merchandise was warehoused, but the Chef de Reserve, Jean N'Diaye, cut the lights and in the morning, merchandise was missing. Some was found hidden in dry wells near the station from which it could have been easily retrieved and removed during the day.
In what appeared to be acts of sabotage, metal objects were placed in rail expansion joints on July 8, 1926 at kilometer 8.3 and on February 23, 1926 at kilometer 84.6.
(p1) The express that derailed was composed of two couverts à 4 essieux (two 4-axle covered cars), one fourgon à 4 essieux (a 4-axle box car), two voitures 3ième classe (two 3rd-class passenger cars), one voiture 2ième classe (one 2nd-class passenger car), one wagon-restaurant (a dining car), one voiture 1ière classe (a 1st-class passenger car), two voitures lits (two sleeping cars), and one fourgon poste à 4 essieux (a railroad postal office). The express was pulled by locomotive #30017 and operated by 3 men, the chauffeur Moussa Diallo, the mechanicien Bobakar M'Baye and an apprentice-chauffeur, Samba Tjiadji.
(p2) The express carried 26 Europeans in 1st and 2nd class, and 60 Africans in 3rd class.
(p5) The author wrote that possible motives for sabotage included a desire to derail the train in order to pillage the passengers, or an act of vandalism and revenge. An African was quoted as saying "ceux qui auraient fait cela pour voler, n'auraient pas hesité à attaquer les voyageurs à main armée" (anyone who would derail a train in order to rob passengers would not hesitant to use armed force against the passengers).
Railroad director Chardy referred to the problem of sabotage along the rail line and stressed the need to involve local Africans who lived along the railroad in the security of the operation.
(p1) On July 27, 1926, an attempt was made to sabotage the railroad at kilometer 650 near the Dar-Salam stop west of Kayes. A "chasse clavette" (iron bar) was placed upright in the joint between the end of two rails.
(p2) This was the seventh incident of sabotage since January 1, 1926. In January 1926, chef de reserve Jean N'Diaye cut an electric line at the Diourbel station. On February 1, 1926, a "draisine" was derailed by a metal plate stuck in an expansion joint between two rails at kilomter 49.
On June 19, 1926, another "draisine" was derailed by an unfastened rail at kilometer 345. On July 3, 1926, the express was derailed by a loosened rail at kilometer 285. On July 4, 1926, rocks and branches were found on the rails between Koungheul and Koumpentoum.
(p3) On July 27, 1926, a metal plank was found stuck in an expansion joint at kilometer 11 between Kaolack and Guinguineo. On the same day, the chasse-clavette was found at kilometer 653 west of Kayes.
The similarity of the methods of sabotage (placing an metal object between two rails so that it protruded upwards in front of the train wheels) suggested a conspiracy.
(p4) Magard, an admitted communist, visited the AOF at the end of 1925 with M. Wache, ostensibly to buy animal pelts for a German firm. He visited Tambacounda several times and took the train to Soudan, all in early 1926.
(p1) This letter describes a number of criminal acts associated with the railroad. It suggests that the two acts of sabotage on the Chemin de Fer Thiès-Niger between Kaffrine and Koussanar were Bolshevist acts "appuyant sur le levier `noir' pour ébranler la puissance de notre grande Nation" (pushing on the "black lever" to weaken France).
M. Geinteinrich, a European (and presumably a Communist), was still at large. He was known for his violent temper.
(p2) Geinteinrich was an "ancien chef de depôt" fired by the Chemin de Fer Thiès-Kayes-Niger. The judge also mentioned M. Magard as having exerted a Bolshevik influence on Africans.
Finally, the judge mentioned Ibrahema N'Daw and his part in the derailment at Koussanar. N'Daw was the ringleader of a band, an ancien tirailleur, and nearly illiterate.
(p3) The region between Kaffrine and Koussanar was difficult to control because of the lack of local police.
A bag with 3,000 francs was stolen from Mme. Tesson in the express train that derailed near Koumpentoum on July 3, 1926.
In another case, two thieves who worked under the protection of the chef de train were sentenced to two and three years in prison respectively.
The Affaire Deveaux involved two workers who were injured by a derailment. One, Abou Gueye, had a wrench in his pocket that may have been used to cause the derailment. Another worker, a garde-ligne (trackwalker) named Siré, was killed in the accident. They were all working at kilometer 285.3, near the Koumpentoum derailment.
There was an attempt at sabotage at kilometer 60.550 (west of Thiès) on July 20, 1927. Emile Lefevre, the chef de district, reported a loose rail that was wired across the main line in such a way that it would derail a train arriving from Dakar. This implied a knowledge of train schedules, since a train arriving from the other direction would have simply knocked it away.
According to testimony, Lefevre fabricated the story of attempted sabotage at kilometer 60.550 in order to look good to his superiors. (NOTE: The tone of the letter implies that Lefevre was unpopular with colleagues and supervisors.)
On February 1, 1926, a pile of wood was found on the railroad tracks at kilometer 119 near Bafoulabé. Since the incident was not a big deal, no report was made to the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF at the time. An investigation by the court of Kaolack produced no further information.
Judge Nicolas found no trace of communist nor criminal conspiracy in the derailments of 1926. Neither Magard nor Geinteinrich appeared to have spread propaganda or influenced anyone. People in the village of Lampeur, nearest to where the express derailed, saw and heard nothing.
There was almost no sabotage in the Soudan in 1926, other than the chasse-clavette at Dar Salam near Kayes and a pile of wood found on the tracks near Bafoulabé. Descemet doubted that this had anything to do with the 1925 strike.