Assignment Selous Scouts
Inside Story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer
Author: Jim Parker
360pp; size 242 X 168mm
32pp pages black and white and colour pics
10 maps and diagrams, in-text illustrations
Trade paperback; ISBN 1-919854-14-2

Bar code 9-781919-854144

Assignment Selous Scouts is a compelling read and the first book that fully illuminates the day-to-day horrors of the bloody and brutal terror war that was fought in the former Rhodesia against Marxists guerrillas. ZANLA targeted white civilians, particularly farmers, to drive them from the land as well as tribal blacks to bring them onside using a strategy of murder, torture, rape, arson and other horrible acts of terror. They laid landmines indiscriminately on public roads. By the war’s end there had been 21 782 recorded terrorist incidents in the country (7 996 in Hurricane, 5 398 in Thrasher, 5 676 in Repulse and 2 712 in Grapple and Tangent between them). There were 1 276 landmine detonations that caused 7 283 casualties.

Although involved in the conflict earlier while a regular policeman, the author stepped back into the Rhodesian Bush War in mid 1977 when as a farmer and a Police A Reservist he was appointed as a Special Branch liaison officer with the Selous Scouts at their Chiredzi Fort in the Lowveld. Much of what he has written in this book has come from his personal knowledge and experience. What Jim Parker didn’t know then was that on 20 July 1977 the Security Force chiefs at Combined Operations had told Prime Minister Ian Smith that the war couldn’t be won ‘by purely military means’ and that it was vital he arrived at an early political settlement before the point of no return was reached. The advice wasn’t taken, the point of no return was reached, and the no-win-war dragged on for another 2½ years at the cost of countless lives.

It had become apparent early in the war that the Security Forces couldn’t make contact with the guerrillas using conventional counter-insurgency methods, because the enemy’s tactic was to merge with and hide among the local tribal population. This had resulted in the formation of the Selous Scouts Regiment with the role of infiltrating pseudo guerrillas into enemy groups and  bringing them to contact. The unit comprised two arms — an army unit under Major Ron Reid Daly whose operators were responsible for the pseudo groups operational deployment and Special Branch liaison officers under Superintendent Mac McGuinness, who gathered the intelligence and ‘turned’ captured guerrillas and got them to fight for the government. Each was a vital component of the whole scheme and neither could have successfully operated without the other. By the war’s end it was estimated that the Selous Scouts had accounted for 68% of all guerrillas killed or captured during the war.

This is a story of pseudo warfare — the outwitting of an enemy by means that reminds one of the Trojan Horse — and of major armed column raids into surrounding black-ruled states.  It is also tells the full unvarnished story for the first time of how the increasingly desperate Rhodesians faced with the impossible task of defending their 1 000 plus kilometre long eastern border with Mozambique looked around in desperation for a force multiplier to combat guerrilla infiltrations. Cholera was introduced into the Gaza Province of Mozambique in the hope of debilitating infiltrating guerrillas. It worked, but it also infected the local population and later spread into Rhodesia. Anthrax was introduced to kill cattle to reduce the food supply available. That also worked but it boomeranged back into Rhodesia and caused a large number of deaths in the tribal areas. Seizing the opportunity Special Branch and the Selous Scouts infiltrated ZANLA’s logistical supply chains with canned food, medicines and other supplies contaminated with poisons. Clothing was impregnated with toxins that invaded the body through hair follicles. Thousands of guerrillas died.

In late 1979 all parties to the conflict — Bishop Muzorewa and the by then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government — under the watchful eye of Ian Smith and his colleagues — Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU-PF and Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF were elbowed to the negotiating table at Lancaster House in London by the British, where it was eventually agreed that fully inclusive free and fair elections would take place in April 1980 under the supervision of a British governor. The security chiefs regarded Mugabe as a terrorist and were determined he wouldn’t live to see the elections. A CIO bomb plot to kill him in London during the Lancaster House talks reached trigger stage, but it was called off. It was then planned to detonate a car bomb at Maputo Airport on 27 January 1980 just before he caught a plane to Salisbury. Fortuitously for him he used a different airport entrance and survived. A back-up plan to kill him with command-detonated landmines buried in the road after he left Salisbury Airport had already been cancelled. At least another eight attempts on Mugabe’s life either failed or were aborted.

During the election run-up two things were apparent. Robert Mugabe had no intention of playing by the rules and he ordered his hard-core guerrillas to remain outside the assembly points to brutally intimidate the black populace into voting for ZANU-PF. Comops expressed confidence that a coalition of Nkomo, Muzorewa and smaller parties would win. But Comops had its own secret agenda. With the connivance of South Africa and the tacit approval of British MI6 — who had been fighting the Cold War since 1946 and had no liking for Marxists like Mugabe — they intended to manipulate the election by ‘stuffing’ the ballot boxes.

Special Branch Selous Scouts pseudo call-sign Selous Scouts pseudo call-sign A captured ZANLA guerilla hooded to preserve his
identity before turning.
Detective Inspector Bob Wishard, Special Branch
Selous Scouts on the right

They fully expected that Mugabe would return to war when it was announced he had lost. Operation Quartz was created to deal with this. The Rhodesian and South African Air Forces would bomb the assembly points where ZANLA’s forces were congregated. Rhodesian ground forces reinforced by South African Special Forces and paratroopers would mop up. With his guerrilla forces scattered or dead, it would be impossible for Mugabe to do anything to prevent Nkomo’s armoured and motorised infantry formations from moving into Rhodesia to support the coalition government. But in the end CIO chief Ken Flower got cold feet and called off the ballot box stuffing. The rest is history.

Within a week of the election that brought Mugabe to power the vast majority of the Security Forces had been demobilised and sent home. The remaining regulars were confined to barracks. The danger of a coup from the Security Forces had been reduced to nil.

Then South Africa kicked in with its own agenda. The powerful Battle Group Charlie comprising motorised infantry, armoured cars and artillery was mustered and moved quietly moved in small batches to the border at Messina. The State Security Council declared Messina an ‘operational area’ to give the SADF ‘more room to manouevre’. Meanwhile, SA Special Forces intended to place a series of powerful roadside bombs in the shape of electricity sub-stations and traffic light control boxes on a pavement past which a motorcade would travel when en route from Government House to a reception at Meikles Hotel on 17 April, Zimbabwe’s inauguration day. Prince Charles, Robert Mugabe, President elect Caanan Banana, Governor Lord Soames, British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington and others would be in that motorcade.

It was expected that the command-detonated devices would kill most dignitaries, including Robert Mugabe and Prince Charles. Meanwhile, many thousands of blacks would be packed into Rufaro Stadium where they would be eagerly waiting to witness the inauguration and the handover of their country to black rule It was a powder keg situation. When news of the outrage broke it was expected that the reaction would be for them to blame the whites. It was believed the response would be for them to stream from the stadium and head for the white suburbs, where more killings, looting, rapes and arson with whites as the victims would take place than had been seen in Africa since the Belgium Congo achieved its independence in 1960.

The little left of the Rhodesian Security Forces would be incapable of stepping in to restore order and nor would the skeletal British Monitoring Force be capable of interfering. The blasts, however, would have been the signal for Battle Group Charlie to cross the border and head for Salisbury
to ‘restore order’. In the circumstances it was unlikely that anyone would have raised objections — certainly not the British who had lost a member of the royal family and witnessed the most awful atrocities committed by Mugabe’s supporters against people who, in the main, held joint British and Rhodesian citizenship, or were of British descent. Besides events would have moved too quickly.

For the same reasons no one would be likely to interfere when the South Africans called on Joshua Nkomo and Bishop Muzorewa and other smaller parties to form a ‘temporary’ government of national unity. This would be followed by Nkomo’s ZIPRA regulars moving from Zambia into the country which would spell the end to ZANU-PF’s political ambitions. Mozambique had let it be known during the Lancaster House conference that it would no longer host guerrilla forces. That would have achieved exactly what the Rhodesians had wanted, but not at the price of the slaughter of probably thousands of white civilians. But fortunately the plot was discovered several days before it was due to take place and reported to Danny Stannard of the CIO. The plot was foiled and the plotters fled the country, but it was not revealed to the press until some months later. Nor were the targets accurately identified and with the disappearance of white Rhodesian rule the world press was no longer interested in Zimbabwe, nor in putting two plus two together.

Ten years later President Mugabe, without prior fanfare, presented Danny
Stannard, with the Gold Cross, Zimbabwe’s highest award for valour. The cryptic citation said that on 16 April 1980 he had ‘foiled an assassination attempt by South African agents’ directed against Mugabe and international heads of state who were in Harare for the inauguration on 18 April.



Media Reviews:

Assignment Selous Scouts
attracted some media attention at the time of its publication in late 2006 because of claims that South African operatives were planning to assassinate Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe on the day of his inauguration in a roadside bomb attack that was also likely to kill British Crown Prince Charles. Jim Parker, the author, was a reservist British South Africa Police Special Branch NCO assigned to the Selous Scouts Regiment during the latter years of the Rhodesian Bush War. It is an eminently readable book and adds much to the understanding of that conflict.

The most interesting aspect of this book is found in the reproduction of a secret July 20, 1977 quarterly threat report signed by Rhodesia ’s security chiefs and presumably addressed to Prime Minister Ian Smith. Its conclusions read:

12.        Of over-riding concern is the present inadequate and diminishing force level with the resultant urgent need for additional manpower to even contain the situation, let alone prevent its inevitable deterioration.

13.        No successful result can be attained by purely military means. It is now more vital than ever to arrive at an early political settlement before the point of no return beyond which it will be impossible to achieve any viable political or military/political solution.’

Parker says of this: ‘It was evident from this report that Rhodesia ’s bush war with nationalist insurgents had reached a ‘no win situation’ by July 1977, yet Prime Minister Smith refused to heed the advice of his security chiefs and seek a political settlement with the nationalists. Instead he stubbornly pursued his already discredited plan for an internal settlement with Bishop Muzorewa and the others. Worse still, the general public was continually being fed propaganda that palpably gave the false impression that Rhodesia was winning the war with ease. Sadly, thousands of Rhodesian patriots — myself included — who knew nothing about the negative views of the security chiefs, had only just begun to fight the escalating war with earnest. Even more sadly, many of them would die or be maimed in the next two-and-a-half years of war. It is ironic that when I was increasing my own personal commitment to the Security Forces and fighting the war — to the detriment of my family and my farming life — the top Security Force commanders were advising the politicians to throw in the towel. One must ask why they didn’t have the courage of their convictions. Why didn’t they resign and have the guts to tell the Rhodesian public their reasons why?’

At last glance the security chiefs concerned (John Hickman, Frank Mussell and Peter Walls) were still with us. Ian Smith, Peter Sherren and Ken Flower have since passed on. It is now 30 years since Smith was told to quit while the going was good. Perhaps it is time for the survivors  to come clean. A bit of guts, even if belated, can stand them in good stead with history’s final reckoning for this book is a sure indictment.

In this regard this work is more honest than many other books published on the Rhodesian bush war in stating the obvious — that Rhodesia lost the war militarily and that its leaders knew this would be the case. Instead of doing what was honourable they chose to make hay while the sun shone: when the end came most flitted to South Africa or back to Blighty, mumbling about British betrayal. Even allowing for the widely-held assumption that Flower, the CIO Director General, was a British double agent, who were the traitors here? Were they the British who forced a settlement in 1980 or were they Smith and his cronies who were partying while Rome burned?
Leon Engelbrecht — South Africa Armed Forces

This book is subtitled Inside story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer and tells the story of a policeman attached to the famous (or infamous, depending which side you were on) Selous Scouts.

In about 1972 the bush war; which until this time had been a somewhat low-key affair; flared up into a much more serious matter. In Mozambique, the Portuguese were on the point of leaving and Frelimo allowed ZANLA free run of the areas it controlled so as to infiltrate the north-eastern parts of Rhodesia.

The conventional forces of the Rhodesian Army found that making contact with an enemy, who wore no recognisable uniforms and who blended in seamlessly with the local population, was a task that was mostly beyond its abilities, and the powers-that-be decided that a new Special Forces unit with an innovative approach should be formed. The upshot was the formation of the Selous Scouts.

The unit consisted of two separate but interlinked branches. There was a group of pseudo guerrillas tasked with infiltrating the terrorist units and bringing them to battle. These men were run by the army, who supplied logistics and planning as well as seeing to the deployment of the men. The other part of the unit was made up of Special Branch police officers who gathered and evaluated intelligence for the pseudo units and 'turned' captured guerrillas and persuaded them to fight for the Rhodesian government.

Jim Parker was one of those police officers and this book is mainly his story of the final years of this tragic conflict. Although mostly a personal chronicle, the author has broadened its scope by interviewing many of his colleagues as well as those senior officers responsible for the planning of operations who were still available and willing to be interviewed.

This brings the reader a fascinating and in some ways horrifying insight into a war that was fought with neither rules nor mercy on either side. The Armed Forces High Command had already accepted in mid-1977 that the war could not be won by military means and had informed Prime Minister Ian Smith of this. Smith determined to ignore this warning and the cost in pain and sorrow and lives lost is incalculable.

Some of the methods used on both sides will no doubt appal the sensitive reader; but beyond that this book should act as a timely reminder of the savagery that a race war can engender and the misery that follows in its wake.

This book is not an easy read, but it is definitely a salutary one.
Peter Canavan - Pretoria News 

This book is a memoir of Jim Parker, a former member of the Selous Scouts, the dreaded unit created by the security establishment in Rhodesia at the height of the bush war . . . 

Parker’s account is mostly centred in the south-eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe where he was based, but his account is an important narrative of the Smith regime’s general war efforts to repel mainly ZANU guerrillas coming into the country from Mozambique .

The illustrations paint vivid pictures of the infighting and mutual jealousy among the Rhodesian security hierarchy, apartheid South Africa ’s involvement in the war effort, and Selous missions as well as activities such as poisoning water sources.

Using formerly classified documents of secret missions, Parker explains the Scouts’ use of biological and chemical warfare against the guerrillas right up to their operations after independence.

Gory details emerge from this account, but as Parker writes, ‘all is fair in love and war’. This is an important book that can take its place in Zimbabwe ’s ever-expanding literary pantheon.
Percy Zvomuya, Mail and Guardian ( Johannesburg )

It was a plot born of desperation in the dying days of white rule. 300kgs of explosives were packed into carefully manufactured replicas of electrical substations and traffic light control boxes. They were ‘grotesque bomb[s]’, the commissioner of police would say years later, ‘made even more disgusting because [they were] also packed with shrapnel’.

Near the head of the targeted motorcade, riding in an open-topped 1953 Rolls-Royce, would be Britain ’s Prince Charles. Behind him, in other cars, would be Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Peter Carrington, the Governor of Rhodesia, Lord Christopher Soames and his wife, Lady Mary — the daughter of Winston Churchill.

It was April 1980. Eight months previously, Prince Charles’s great-uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, had been blown to smithereens when an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded on his fishing skiff. It was the most devastating terrorist attack carried out against Britain ’s royal family. Now Charles — the heir to the throne — was to die.

This time the plot was hatched not in Ireland , but in Pretoria . And the British dignitaries were not the primary targets. Their deaths would have been ‘collateral damage’ in a grand scheme to kill Robert Mugabe and the Rev Canaan Banana, respectively the prime minister and president-elect of Zimbabwe . Near the border at Messina , South African troops were poised, ready to ‘intervene’.  Twenty-six years later, details of the plot have been revealed for the first time in a book published this week by a former Rhodesian Special Branch officer, Jim Parker.

Assignment Selous Scouts — The Inside Story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer is an account of Rhodesia’s bloody demise and the shadowy world of ‘pseudo-operations’ in which atrocities and dirty tricks were the norm. It is the story of a war in which both sides committed frightening acts of murder, torture, arson and terror. ‘It was war, and in war all things are allowed’,  Ken Flower — the head of the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) from 1963 to 1980 — would later write.

According to Parker, there were at least 11 attempts to kill Mugabe between 1979 and 1980.

Author Peter Stiff, who has written extensively about the Rhodesian war, says the country’s ‘security chiefs regarded Mugabe as a terrorist and were determined he wouldn’t live to see the elections’.

“A CIO bomb plot to kill him in London during the Lancaster House talks reached trigger stage, but was called off. It was then planned to detonate a car bomb at Maputo Airport on January 27 1980, just before he caught a plane to Salisbury [now Harare ]. Fortuitously for him he used a different airport entrance and survived ... At least another eight attempts on Mugabe’s life either failed or were aborted.”

After Mugabe’s sweeping victory at the polls in March 1980, South Africa ’s State Security Council declared Messina an ‘SADF operational area’. Troops began massing at the border and the force was designated ‘Battle Group Charlie’.  According to Parker, SADF planners began devising a plot to rid themselves of the man they saw as a Marxist menace.  ‘It was so hush-hush that only a handful of people, even to this day, know about it,” he said.

The South Africans expected that if everything went according to plan ‘most black people — particularly the many thousands gathered at Rufaro Stadium [for independence celebrations on April 17] — would immediately jump to the conclusion that Rhodesian whites were responsible for the outrage’. He said: “Rioting mobs would rampage through white residential areas, killing, looting and burning. With the old Rhodesian security forces disarmed and disbanded, there would be no one around to step in and prevent a bloodbath ... The South Africans believed that the British government ... and much of the Western world would be outraged by the murder of Prince Charles and other British dignitaries ... The only country with sufficient troops in the region to intervene and restore law and order was South Africa.’

Five bombs were placed inside metal casings that replicated electrical substations commonly found along pavements in Salisbury . Four others were placed in replicas of traffic-light control boxes. A large Claymore-type mine was also provided.

Once completed, the devices were flown from South Africa where they were met by a Rhodesian Special Branch man, identified by Parker only as Detective Inspector Jock.  Jock, who was planning to leave Rhodesia , had already accepted an appointment with South African Military Intelligence.

The inauguration was set to take place at midnight. At 7.30pm, the motorcade and dignitaries, led by a police car, would leave Government House for the Meikles Hotel where Zanu-PF was to host a banquet.  ‘The targets would be sitting ducks as the charges were detonated by remote control ... Prince Charles in the open Rolls would be the most vulnerable. A clean sweep of dignitaries would be ideal, but even if only Prince Charles and Robert Mugabe were killed, the purpose would be served’, Parker writes.

But someone within the circle of plotters talked. Chief Superintendent Mac McGuinness, the commander of the Rhodesian Special Branch, was tipped off. He, in turn, alerted CIO operative Dan Stannard, who launched an investigation. But old loyalties remained and someone tipped off the plotters, who hastily abandoned their safe house. They loaded the explosives and a cache of nine limpet mines and two Soviet-made Strela heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles into a one-ton Ford Cortina bakkie. Driving out on the Bulawayo road, they abandoned the vehicle and materiel in the bush and escaped to South Africa .

McGuinness confirmed the plot to the Sunday Times this week. 'It is all in the past, but yes, that did happen.’ Asked if the bombs had indeed been built into replica substations, he said tersely: ‘That’s all correct.’ Seven years after independence, Stannard was given Zimbabwe ’s highest award for valour, the Gold Cross.

Julian Rademeyer, Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

South Africa's apartheid rulers targeted the Prince of Wales and Robert Mugabe for assassination in a bomb plot designed to pave the way for an invasion of Zimbabwe on the eve of its independence, a new book claims. Details of the conspiracy, which would also have killed Lord Soames, the interim colonial governor, and Lord Carrington, the then foreign secretary, as they travelled to a reception in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1980 are described by a former Rhodesian special branch officer, Jim Parker.

He claims that the British and South African governments, and the outgoing white Rhodesian regime, expected the country's first black elections to produce a coalition government of moderate parties.

When, to their horror, Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF Party won overall power, the South Africans decided to eliminate him as Zimbabwe prepared to celebrate independence.

A close-knit group of disaffected ex-Selous Scouts planned to detonate at least five roadside bombs, made and supplied by South Africa and disguised as electrical sub-stations and traffic light control boxes, along the route Mr Mugabe and the British dignitaries were due to take in April 1980. The prince, who was to have led the convoy in an open-top 1953 Rolls Royce, would have been directly exposed to the danger.

Mac McGuinness, a former commander of counter-terrorism for the Rhodesian special branch and the man who discovered the plot, confirmed that the bombs were intended to kill everyone. ‘The object of the exercise was for the column to be wiped out’,  he said. ‘That's why there were so many bombs lining the street.’ He said the assassinations were intended as a precursor to an invasion by South African forces when, as expected, Mr Mugabe's supporters launched savage reprisals against the white population. Mr. McGuiness said: ‘At that stage, the Rhodesian defence forces had been disarmed and confined to barracks. The object was that once the assassination of Mugabe had taken place, the black population would rise up and slaughter the whites, who were now defenceless. The South African Defence Force (SADF) had an armoured column on the road not far from the border ready to go charging in to save the Europeans. They would use world opinion to take over Rhodesia .’

The presence of the battle group was confirmed to Parker by Gen Constand Viljoen, a former head of the SADF, although he claimed that it was merely a ‘reaction force’ in case of problems in Zimbabwe and denied knowledge of a plot.

Although Mr McGuinness claimed that Prince Charles's death would have been "incidental as far as the original planning was concerned", Parker said it was crucial, since exposing Zanu PF's inability to keep order would force London to acquiesce in South Africa 's intervention. He said: ‘ South Africa was the only country with sufficient troops in the region to intervene and restore order. They believed that once they did so, Britain , America and probably France would approve their actions.’

Dan Stannard, an officer in Rhodesia 's Central Intelligence Organisation who helped to foil the plot - and later became the organisation's head under Mr Mugabe - said the prince's death would have been a bonus. ‘I don't think Prince Charles was specifically the target. Anybody there would have been fair game. The only specific target was to destroy Zimbabwe before it had a chance to achieve independence. With such high-profile people being there, it would have added to the disaster.’

But before the plan could be enacted, it was leaked to Mr. McGuinness. A raid on a safe house used by the plotters was launched, but they had been tipped off and fled the country.  Mr. McGuinness said Mr. Mugabe's security minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, had wanted to play down the real significance of the plot. ‘I think he was playing cool. He knew the real story because I sat with him in the office and chatted with him about it. But I don't think they wanted the world to know how lax the security had been.’

The suggestion that the South Africans were prepared to kill a senior member of the Royal Family caused surprise yesterday, even among those well aware of the covert tactics adopted by the apartheid regime to ensure its survival. Piers Pigou, the director of the South African History Archive, said: ‘They, along with everybody else, based their intelligence on thinking that Mugabe didn't have the kind of support that he had. Then, maybe they panicked.’

Pik Botha, South Africa 's foreign minister at the time, said last night: "I know nothing about this nonsense and I simply don't believe it. It's so silly, it's not true. We went out of our way to help Zimbabwe towards independence."

Stephen Bevan Sunday Telegraph ( London )

Readers' Comments:

Dear Jim. I'm writing to say that I've just finished reading Assignment Selous Scouts. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very enlightening - specially the 2nd half.
This is a book that should be in the top twenty books on Rhodesia militaria and a very valuable reference work on COIN.
A definite must have. Well done!
Alex Binda - UK

Congratulations! Your title Assignment Selous Scouts: Inside story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer was nominated by the booksellers as the title they most enjoyed reading, selling or promoting in the past calendar year and it appears on the 2007 shortlist.

Freda van Wyk, Managing Director Book Data/SAPnet — Cape Town

Again Galago comes through with another superb title! Parker's book truly rivals Stiff's definitive South Africa Secret Warfare Trilogy, something I believed hard to do! This book is a critical look into the shadow world of intelligence and COIN with relevant lessons that still apply today. I recommend Assignment Selous Scouts to all, while it should be REQUIRED reading for all serving military and intelligence personnel.
T. A. Lettieri - US Special Forces Operator

Parker not our man:

REGARDING ‘ South Africa ’s plot to kill Prince Charles’ (May 7) and the status of Jim Parker, author of Assignment Selous Scouts.

As the officer commanding Special Operations CIO Headquarters, I categorically state that Parker was never an attested member of the BSAP Rhodesian Special Branch, or the Selous Scout Regiment.

At no time during his service as a police reservist was he authorised by a competent authority to direct, brief, or command personnel in the field.

The alleged attack on Berejena Catholic Mission in the Chibi Tribal Trust Land on the night of February 19, resulting in the death of Father Huesser, was never contemplated by those officers in authority, and was totally unlawful.

- MJ McGuinness, via e-mail  — letter to the editor Sunday Times, (28 May 06)

About turn:

REGARDING “ South Africa ’s plot to kill Prince Charles” (May 7), and MJ McGuinness’s disavowal, “Parker not our man” (Letters, May 28) of the Special Branch status of Jim Parker, author of Assignment Selous Scouts: Inside Story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer:

I have the utmost respect for McGuinness, who is a former colleague from my Rhodesian BSA Police days. I have listened to several hours of taped interviews that Parker conducted with McGuinness while researching his book. Much of what he wrote emanated from McGuinness, including the plot to assassinate Prince Charles and much more. Surely he wouldn’t have been so revealing if he hadn’t accepted Parker’s bona fides as a former subordinate — albeit a “lowly” reservist and not a regular policeman? Particularly as he also acknowledged Parker as “his man” in the tapes.

Regarding the Berejena Mission incident that was “never contemplated by those officers in authority”, such a thing couldn't have been anything else but unlawful.

The same would apply to similar incidents that McGuinness discussed with Parker which occurred in what were then Salisbury , Gwelo and Rusape. It is also evident from the McGuinness tapes that certain officers in authority did more than just “contemplate” in those cases.

Does this explain his puzzling about-turn?

- Peter Stiff, publisher of Assignment Selous Scouts by Jim Parker, Alberton — letter to the editor, Sunday  Times (4 June 2006)

Have just read your book, excellent.
Markham Batstone — ex-DSO BSAP



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