25 July 2001. Thanks to Anonymous.
Source: gopher://gopher.anc.org.za/00/SACP/history/secret.wrk

This is an African National Congress manual for covert actions, first published during 1988-90 as a series of articles in 'Umsebenzi', later as a single pamphlet for underground operatives.



This is a pamphlet about the role of secrecy in solving the tasks
of the Revolution. Secrecy gives us protection by starving the
enemy of information about us. Secrecy helps us build a strong
revolutionary movement to overthrow the enemy.

There is nothing sinister about using secret methods to help win
freedom. Through the ages the ruling classes have made it as
difficult as possible for the oppressed people to gain freedom.
The oppressors use the most cruel and sinister methods to stay
in power.They use unjust laws to ban, banish, imprison and
execute their opponents. They use secret police, soldiers, spies
and informers against the people's movements. But the people know
how to fight back and how to use secret methods of work.

The early history of struggle in our country is full of good
examples. Makanda, Cetshwayo, Sekhukhune and Bambatha made use
of secret methods to organise resistance. Bambatha, for example,
prepared his rebellion against colonialism in great secrecy from
the Nkandla forest.

Secrecy has Helped us Outwit the Enemy:

The enemy tries to give the impression that it is impossible to
carry out illegal work. The rulers boast about all our people
they have killed or captured. They point to the freedom fighters
locked up in the prisons. But a lot of that talk is sheer bluff.
Of course it is impossible to wage a struggle without losses. The
very fact, however, that the South African Communist Party and
African National Congress have survived years of illegality is
proof that the regime cannot stop our noble work. It is because
we have been mastering secret work that we have been able, more
and more, to outwit the enemy.

Discipline, Vigilance and Self-Control:

Secret methods are based on common sense and experience. But they
must be mastered like an art. Discipline, vigilance and self-
control are required. A resistance organiser in Nazi-occupied
France who was never captured said this was because he `never
used the telephone and never went to public places like bars,
restaurants and post offices'. He was living a totally
underground life. But even those members of a secret movement who
have a legal existence must display the qualities we have
referred to.

Study and Apply the Rules of Secrecy:

Most people know from films and books that secret work involves
the use of codes, passwords, safe houses and hiding places.
Activists must study the rules of secrecy and apply them
seriously. This enables us to build up secret organisations
linked to the people. This secret network becomes a vital force
in helping to lead the people in the struggle for power. In our
series we will discuss such topics as:

1.   How to set up a secret network;
2.   The rules of secrecy;
3.   How to overcome surveillance (i.e. observation);
4.   Secret forms of communication;
5.   Technical Methods  such as secret writing, hiding places
6.   How to behave under interrogation (i.e. when being
     questioned by the enemy).

These are among the main elements of secret work.

To organise in secret is not easy, but remember: The most
difficult work is the most noble!


We have said that secret work helps us overcome the problems
created by the enemy. This helps in the vital task of building
an underground organisation or secret network. The network must
lead the people in the struggle for power. It does not compete
with the progressive legal organisations but reinforces them. Let
us look at some of the main measures involved:

1.   Only serious and reliable people can be included in the
     secret network. The leaders must study the potential
     recruits very carefully. They are looking for people who are
     politically clean, determined, disciplined, honest and
     sober. People who can keep a secret. People who are brave
     and capable of defying the enemy even if captured. 
2.   Recruits are organised into a unit or cell of three or four
     people. The number is limited in case of failure or arrest.
     The cell leader is the most experienced person. The cell
     members must not know the other members of the network. 
3.   Only the cell leader knows and is in contact with a more
     senior member of the network. This senior contact gives
     instructions from the leadership and receives reports. 
4.   A small committee of the most experienced people leads the
     network. This is a leadership cell of two or three persons.
     This cell might be in charge of a factory, location,
     township or city. A city network takes the form of a
     pyramid. The city underground committee is at the top. Local
     cells are at the base. Middle command cells are in between.
     Start with one cell. Gain experience before building more. 

     (diagram 1)     
5.   A rule of secret work is that members must know only that
     which is necessary to fulfil their tasks. Everyone, from top
     to bottom, must have good cover stories to protect them.
     This is a legend or story which hides or camouflages the
     real work being done. For example: a secret meeting in a
     park is made to look like a chance meeting between friends.
     If they are ever questioned they give the legend that they
     simply bumped into each other and had a discussion about
6.   All members of the network are given code names. These
     conceal their real identities. They must have good
     identification documents. Especially those living an illegal
     life. A lot of time and effort must be given to creating
     good legends to protect our people. There is nothing that
     arouses suspicion as much as a stranger who has no good
     reason for being around.    
7.   All illegal documents, literature, reports and weapons (when
     not in use) must be carefully hidden. Special hiding places
     must be built. Codes must be used in reports to conceal
     sensitive names and information.    
8.   The leaders must see that all members are trained in the
     rules and methods of secret work . It is only through this
     training that they will develop the skills to outwit the
9.   Technical methods such as the use of invisible writing,
     codes and disguise must be mastered. Counter-surveillance
     methods which help check whether one is being watched by the
     enemy must be known. Secret forms of communicating between
     our people must be studied and used. This is all part of the
     training. These methods will be dealt with later.    
10.  Specialisation: Once the network has been developed some
     cells should specialise in different tasks such as
     propaganda, sabotage, combat work, mass work, factory
     organisation etc.

In the meantime you can start putting into practice some of the
points already dealt with. Begin to work out legends in your
work. What innocent reason can you give if a friend or a
policeman finds this journal in your possession?


Carelessness leads to arrests. Loose talk and strange behaviour
attracts the attention of police and izimpimpi. Secret work needs
vigilance and care. Rules of secrecy help to mask our actions and
overcome difficulties created by the enemy. But first let us
study the following situation:

What Not To Do

X, a trade unionist, also leads a secret cell. He phones Y and
Z, his cell members, and arranges to meet outside a cinema. X
leaves his office and rushes to the meeting 30 minutes late. Y
and Z have been anxiously checking the time and pacing up and
down. The three decide to go to a nearby tea-room where they have
often met before. They talk over tea in low tones. People from
the cinema start coming in. One is a relative of X who greets
him. Y and Z are nervous and abruptly leave. When X is asked who
they were he hesitates and, wanting to impress his relatives,
replies: `They're good guys who like to hear from me what's going
on'. This opens the way for a long discussion on politics.X has
made many errors which would soon put the police on the trail of
all three. These seem obvious but in practice many people behave
just like X. They do not prepare properly; rush about attracting
attention; fail to keep time; do not cover the activity with a
legend (cover story); talk loosely etc. Others pick up the bad
style of work. X should set a good example for Y and Z. To avoid
such mistakes rules of secrecy must be studied and practised.
They might seem obvious but should never be taken for granted.

Things to Remember

1.   Always have a believable' legend to cover your work! (X
     could have said Y and Z were workers he vaguely knew whom
     he had met by chance and had been encouraging to join the
2.   Underground membership must be secret! (X had no need to
     refer to Y and Z as `good guys'). 
3.   Behave naturally and do not draw attention to yourself! `Be
     like the people'. Merge with them! (X, Y and Z behaved
4.   No loose talk! Guard secrets with your life! Follow the
     saying: `Don't trust anyone and talk as little as possible'.
     (X fails here).
5.   Be vigilant against informers! They try to get close to you,
     using militant talk to `test' and trap you. (Can X be so
     sure of his relative?)  
6.   Be disciplined, efficient, punctual (X was none of these).
     Only wait ten minutes at a meeting place. The late comer may
     have been arrested.  
7.   Make all preparations beforehand! Avoid a regular pattern
     of behaviour which makes it easy for the enemy to check on
     you. (X made poor arrangements for the meeting; rushed there
     from a sensitive place and could have been followed; used
     the tea-room too often).  
8.   Do not try to discover what does not concern you! Know only
     what you have to know for carrying out your tasks. 
9.   Be careful what you say on the phone (which may be
     `bugged'), or in a public place (where you can be
     overheard)! Conceal sensitive information such as names etc.
     by using simple codes! 
10.  Remove all traces of illegal work that can lead to you! Wipe
     fingerprints off objects. Know that typewriters can be
     traced; goods bought from shops can be checked. 
11.  Hide materials such as leaflets, weapons etc! But not where
     you live. Memorise sensitive names, addresses etc. Don't
     write them down!  
12.  Carry reliable documents of identification! 
13.  Know your town, its streets, parks, shops etc. like the palm
     of your hand! This will help you find secret places and
     enable you to check whether you are being followed. 
14.  If you are arrested you must deny all secret work and never
     reveal the names of your comrades even to the point of
15.  Finally, if any member of your underground cell is arrested,
     you must immediately act on the assumption that they will
     be forced to give information. This means taking
     precautions, such as going into hiding if necessary.  When
     the rules of secrecy are practised revolutionaries make good
     progress. Practice makes perfect and with discipline and
     vigilance we will outwit the enemy and we will win!


1. What is Surveillance?

In their efforts to uncover secret revolutionary activity the
police put a close watch on suspected persons and places. This
organised form of observation is called surveillance. There are
two general types of surveillance: mobile and stationary. Mobile
is sometimes refer red to as `tailing' or `shadowing' and
involves following the suspect (subject) around. Stationary is
observing the subject, his or her home and workplace, from a
fixed position. This can be from a parked car, neighbouring
building or shop and is referred to as a `stake-out' in detective
films. Surveillance combines both `tailing' and `stake-outs'.

2. Counter-Surveillance

Members of a secret network must use methods of counter-
surveillance to protect themselves and their underground
organisation. You can establish whether you are being watched or
followed. These methods can be effectively used and help you to
give the police the impression that you are not involved in
secret work. Before considering these methods of protection,
however, we need to be more aware of the enemy's surveillance
methods. For it is not possible to deal with surveillance unless
we know how it operates.

3. Aim of Surveillance

The primary aim of surveillance is to gather information about
the subject and to check out whether he or she is involved in
secret work. The police seek to establish the links between the
subject and those he or she might be working with. The enemy
wants to identify you and locate the residences and secret places
you use. They try to collect evidence to prove that illegal work
has been committed. An important use of surveillance is to check
on information received from informers.

4. Decision for Surveillance

A decision to place a subject under surveillance is taken at a
high level. The decision will include the intensity and duration
for example whether for 8, 16 or 24 hours per day over a period
of one, two, three or more weeks. The decision will involve
placing the subject's house and workplace under observation and
having his or her phone tapped either temporarily or permanently.
The number of persons involved in the operation will be decided
upon and they will be given the known facts about the subject
including a description or photograph. Whether the surveillance
ends with the arrest of the subject will depend on what is learnt
during the investigation.

5. The Surveillance Team

Specially trained plainclothes men and women are used to carry
out surveillance. Their identities are kept strictly secret. They
are not the normally known or public special branch policemen.
They are aged between 25 and 50 years and have to be physically
fit for work. In appearance and dress they are average types.
They try to blend in with their surroundings and avoid drawing
attention to themselves. For example, smartly dressed whites will
not be used to follow a black person in a poor, run-down area.
A team may consist of 2-4 people with a car in support. Usually
one team is used at a time but more will be deployed if required.
The subject will be followed by foot, car or public transport if
necessary. The surveillants communicate with each other by
discreet hand signals and small radio transmitters. They make
minor changes in their clothing and appearance to help prevent
recognition. For the same reason they try to avoid abrupt and
unnatural movements when following the subject.
In a crowded city street they will `stick' close to the subject
(within 20 metres) for fear of losing him or her. In a quiet
residential area they will `hang' back (over 50 metres) for fear
of exposing themselves.    They have set plans and procedures for
`tailing' the subject which involves the constant interchanging
of positions. It is important to know these various techniques
of foot and vehicle surveillance.


We have defined surveillance as an organised form of observation
in which the police put a close watch on suspected persons or
places. Various types of surveillance and techniques of `tailing'
the suspect (subject) are used. A subject's home or place of work
might be under observation from a stationary or `fixed' position
such as a neighbouring residence or vehicle. All comings and
goings are recorded. When the subject leaves his or her home they
may be followed by foot or car or combination of both. All the
places they visit and people they meet are noted, photographed
and followed too if necessary.

Foot Surveillance

At least two people will be used to follow the subject whom we
will call `S'. They will communicate through hand-signals and
`walkie-talkie' radios so as to guide and assist each other. They
will keep as close to S as 15 metres in crowded areas and hang
well back, up to 100 metres, in quiet streets. They will try to
be as inconspicuous as possible so as not to arouse S's
suspicions. They will have a car to assist them, which keeps out
of sight in the adjacent streets.
Two-Man or `AB' Surveillance

The person following directly behind S is A. The second person
is B, who follows on behind A, as if in a chain. A and B
alternate positions, `leap-frogging' over each other (Figure 1).
When S turns right at a corner A drops back out of sight and B
takes the lead position. An alternative technique is for A to
cross the road and then turn right. In this case A is not now
following directly behind B as in a chain, but is parallel to B
on the opposite side of the road to both B and S and slightly to
their rear (Figure 2). A and B will avoid direct contact with S.
If S now crosses the street to the left A will either fall back,
enter a shop or walk swiftly ahead, while B will follow S from
his side of the street (Figure 3).

Three Man or `ABC' Surveillance

Inclusion of the extra man makes tailing S easier. A follows S,
B follows A and C operates across the street from S to the rear.
When S turns a corner, A may continue in the original direction,
crossing the street instead of immediately turning. A thus takes
the C position, whilst either B or C can take A's original
position (Figure 4).
A variety of techniques can obviously be used. But the idea is
generally the same. Those following must keep the subject under
constant observation without arousing suspicion. The more persons
used, the greater the scope and flexibility of the operation.

Remember: By knowing the methods of the enemy we can deal with
him and defeat him!

     (Diagram 2)
We have dealt above with following people on foot. We now turn
to `tailing' by vehicle.
Vehicle Surveillance

A variety of vehicles may be used in surveillance car, van, truck
or motorbike. These must be dependable and powerful but not
flashy so as to avoid attracting attention. A surveillance
vehicle will carry no visible police identification but of
necessity will be equipped with a two-way radio (so look out for
the antenna!)
In heavy traffic the tailing vehicle will stick close behind the
suspect's vehicle, hereafter referred to as the subject or `S'.
In light traffic it will hang well back, but it will always try
to keep two or three cars behind S (Figure 1), especially in One-
Vehicle Surveillance. The tailing-vehicle will remain in the same
lane as S to avoid making sudden turns from the wrong lane. There
are normally two persons in a tailing vehicle. The passenger is
always ready to alight and carry out foot surveillance if S parks
his or her car or gets out of it. As in foot surveillance,
inconspicuous actions are required so as not to arouse the
suspicions of S. When more tailing vehicles are used, the scope
and flexibility of the operation is increased. But normally two
tailing vehicles are utilised. The number depends on the degree
of urgency of the operation. 

     (Diagram 3)
Two and Three Vehicle Surveillance 

When two tailing vehicles are used, the lead tail A will remain
two or three cars behind S and B will remain behind A, as in a
chain. They will always keep switching places (Figure 2). When
using a parallel tailing technique, A remains behind S and B
keeps pace in a parallel street. A and B keep switching positions
(Figure 3). With three tailing vehicles the possibilities are
increased. A and B follow S in a chain and a third vehicle C
travels in a parallel street. C may even speed ahead of S,
awaiting it at an intersection before falling in behind and
taking A's position. This allows A to turn off and follow in a
parallel street (Figure 4).
Reflectors and Bleepers 

Those carrying out surveillance may try to place a strip of
reflectorised tape on the rear of the subject's vehicle or break
a tail-light to make it easier to spot it at night. Or they may
place an electronic tailing device on S's car, called a Bumper
Bleeper. This is a small metal box which can be fixed to the
vehicle with magnets in seconds. A radio signal is transmitted
which the tailing vehicle picks up on a receiver. S's car can be
tracked even when out of view! Such gadgets do not, however, make
it impossible to avoid being tailed. It only means that you must
be alert and check for such devices. Knowing it is there can help
you to really mislead the enemy! 
Progressive Surveillance 

This technique is used when extreme caution is needed because the
subject is likely to use all methods to uncover possible
surveillance. S is only followed for a limited distance each day
by foot or car. Observation is picked up again at the time and
place where it was previously discontinued. This continues day
after day until surveillance is completed or discontinued.
Remember! Know the enemy's methods to deal with him and defeat

We have been examining the enemy's surveillance methods, that is,
the forms of observation used to watch suspects and uncover
secret revolutionary activity. We now turn to counter-
surveillance, which is the methods we use to deal with enemy

Qualities Needed 

For successful counter-surveillance you need to be aware of your
surroundings and be alert to what is going on round you. That
means having a thorough knowledge of the town or area in which
you live and work and knowing the habits of the people. You need
basic common sense, alertness and patience together with cool and
natural behaviour and a knowledge of certain tactics or ruses
(which will be discussed later). It is important not to draw
attention to oneself by strange behaviour such as constantly
looking over one's shoulder. And one must guard against paranoia,
that is, imagining that everyone you see is following you. It is
necessary to develop powers of observation and memory (which come
with practice) so that you notice what is usual and remember what
you have seen. It is when you notice the same person or unusual
behaviour a third or fourth time that you are able to conclude
that it adds up to surveillance and not coincidence. 

Are You Being Watched? 

Study the normal situation where you live, work and socialise so
as to immediately recognise anything out of the ordinary. Are
strangers loitering about the streets? Are strange cars parked
where the occupants have a commanding view of your home? They may
be a distance away spying on you through binoculars. Do the
vehicles have antennae for two-way radio communication? Do you
notice such strangers or vehicles on several occasions and in
other parts of the town? This would serve to confirm interest in
Have strangers moved into neighbouring houses or flats? Do you
notice unusual comings and goings or suspicious movements at
upstairs windows? Try discreetly to check who such people are.
The enemy might have created an observation post in the house
opposite the road or placed an agent in the room next door to
you! Be sensitive to any change in attitude to you by neighbours,
landlady,shopkeeper etc. The enemy might have mobilised them for
surveillance. Know such people well, including the local
children, and be on good terms with all. Then if strangers
question them about you, they will be more inclined to inform
Know the back routes and concealed entrances into your area so
that you may slip in and out unnoticed. Secretly check what is
going on in the vicinity after pretending to retire for the
night. Avoid peering from behind curtains, especially at night
from a lit room. This is as suspicious as constantly glancing
over one's shoulder and will only alert the enemy to conceal
themselves better. 
Record all unusual incidents in a note book so you can analyse
events and come to a conclusion. Be alert with persons you mix
with at work or socially, and those like receptionists,
supervisors, waiters and attendants who are well-placed to notice
one's movements. 

Telephone and Mail 

Phone tapping often causes faults. Check with neighbours whether
they are having similar problems or is your phone the exception.
Is your post being interfered with? Check dates of posting, stamp
cancellation and delivery and compare the time taken for delivery
with your friends. Examine the envelopes to check whether they
have been opened and glued down in a clumsy way.     Some of
these checks do not necessarily confirm that you are being
watched but they alert you to the possibility. To confirm whether
you are in fact under observation requires techniques of checking
which we will examine next.    


The Check Route is a planned journey, preferably on foot, along
which a person carries out a number of discreet checks in order
to determine whether they are under surveillance. These checks
take place at predetermined check points which must give you the
opportunity of checking for possible surveillance without
arousing the suspicion of those tailing you. 
The check route should cover a distance of 3-4km, include such
activities as shopping, making innocent enquiries, catching a
bus, enjoying refreshments etc, and should last about one hour.
The route should include quiet and busy areas bearing in mind
that it is easier that you have a valid reason for your
movements. If your actions are strange and inexplicable you will
arouse the suspicions of those following you. 
Here is an example of a typical check route. Shortage of space
obliges us to confine the check points into a smaller area just
a few city blocks than would actually be the case. Check points
are numbered 1 to 12. 

     (Diagram 4)

1.   X walks down the street and pauses at a cinema to examine
     the posters -this gives a good chance to look back down the
     street and to notice those passing by (without looking over
     his shoulder), 

2.   X crosses the road looking right and left and pops into a
     large store; he positions himself near the entrance whilst
     appearing to examine goods on display; he notices anyone
     entering after him; wanders around the store using lift,
     stairways etc. in order to spot anyone paying special
     interest in him; departs at side exit 

3.   and crosses street into little-used alleyway or arcade; here
     he slightly picks up speed and crosses street, where 

4.   shop with large plate glass windows gives good reflection
     of alley out of which he has emerged; X notices whether
     anyone is coming out of that alley to catch up with him ... 

5.   X now proceeds down the street into bookshop with commanding
     view of the street he has come down; he browses around
     noticing anyone entering after him; he also observes whether
     anyone examines the books he has been browsing through (for
     a tail would want to check whether X has left a secret
     communication behind him for a contact); X makes a small
     purchase and exits... 

6.   enters park and walks along winding paths which give good
     view of rear; X throws away an empty cigarette pack and
     retires to ...      

7.   an out-door restaurant where he takes his tea; he observes
     whether anyone picks up the cigarette pack which a tail
     would want to check as in 5; and notices the customers
     arriving after him; any tail would want to check whether X
     is meeting someone; as X leaves he notices whether any of
     the customers are eager to leave immediately after him ... 
8.   X crosses the street into a Post Office; once inside he is
     able to observe whether anyone is crossing the street from
     the park after him; he buys some stamps and notices anyone
     queuing behind him (a tail will be especially interested in
     transactions taking place in post offices, banks etc.); X
     may also make a `phone call at a public box and check
     whether anyone attempts to overhear his conversation; 
9.   on departing X stops a stranger in the street to ask him the
     way; this allows him to check whether anyone has followed
     him out of the Post Office; a tail would also show interest
     in this stranger (who might be X's contact) and a member of
     the surveillance team might follow this stranger'; 
10.  X continues down the street, turns sharply at the corner and
     abruptly stops at a cigarette kiosk; anyone following will
     most likely come quickly around the corner and could become
     startled on finding X right in his path.

11-12.    X crosses the street and joins the queue at a bus stop
          (11) noticing those joining the queue after him; a bit
          of acting here gives the impression that X is unsure
          of the bus he wants to catch; he could allow a couple
          of buses to go by noticing anyone who is doing the
          same; as a bus arrives at the stop across the road
          (12), X suddenly appears to realise it is his and
          dashes across the road to catch it as it pulls away;
          X is alert to anyone jumping on the bus after him and
          will also pay attention to whoever gets on at the next
          few stops.

Such a series of checks must be carried out immediately prior to
any sensitive appointment or secret meeting. If nothing
suspicious has occurred during the Check Route X proceeds to his
secret appointment or mission. If, on the other hand, X has
encountered certain persons over and over again on the Check
Route he will assume he is under surveillance and break his
appointment. Bear in mind that anyone following you, even
professionals, may become indecisive or startled should your
paths unexpectedly cross. A Check Route should also be carried
out from time to time to check whether a person is `clean' or


Check Route is a planned journey, the object of which is to check
whether you are being followed. The previous example was a check
route on foot, by a person acting alone. 
With assistance from comrades the exercise becomes more
effective. The exercise follows similar lines as previously
outlined except that a comrade is stationed at each check point
and observes whether anyone is following you as you pass by. It
is essential that your behaviour appears normal and does not look
as though `checking' is taking place. 

   (Diagram 5)

Let us suppose that you are X. Comrades Y and Z position
themselves at check points Y1 and Z1 respectively. These
observation points must give a good view of your movements, but
keep the comrades hidden from enemy agents who might be tailing
you. After X passes each check point the comrades move to new
positions, in this case Y2 and Z2. They may in fact cover four
to five positions each and the whole operation should take one
to two hours over an area of three or four kilometres. Comrades
must take up each position in good time. 

Such check points could be: 

*    From inside a coffee shop Y gets a good view of X entering
     the bank opposite 
*    Z1 Z is in a building (roof garden, balcony or upper floor
     window) watching X's progress down the street and into the
*    Y2 Y has moved into park and observes X's wanderings from
     park bench among the trees  
*    Z2 Z has time to occupy parked cars in car park with good
     view of all movement.  After the exercise Y and Z meet to
     compare notes. What suspicious individuals have they
     observed? Were such people noticed in X's vicinity on more
     than just one or two occasions? Was their behaviour strange
     and were they showing unusual interest in X2 going into
     check what he was up to? Was a vehicle following them in
     support and were persons from the vehicle taking it in turns
     to follow X? Such persons are more easily noticed and
     remembered in quiet rather than busy areas! 

Remember: In order to carry out secret work you must know whether
you are under surveillance or are clean! 

There are many ways of countering enemy surveillance when using
a vehicle. Be extra observant when approaching your parked car
and when driving off. This is the most likely point at which
tailing may start from your home, work, friends, meeting place.
Be on the lookout for strange cars, with at least two passengers
(usually males). When driving off be on the lookout for cars
pulling off after you or possibly following you from around the
corner. Bear in mind that the enemy may have two or three
vehicles in the vicinity, linked by radio. They will try to
follow you in an interchanging sequence (the so-called A,B,C
technique). Cars A, B and C will constantly exchange positions
so as to confuse you. 


After driving off it is a useful procedure to make a U-turn and
drive away in the opposite direction, forcing any surveillance
car into a hurried move. As you proceed, notice vehicles behind
you your rear-view mirror is your best friend!
Also pay attention to vehicles travelling ahead which may
deliberately allow you to overtake them. Cars waiting ahead of
you at junctions, stop street and by the roadside must be noted
too. You will often find vehicles travelling behind you for quite
a distance, particularly on a main road or link road. Avoid
becoming nervous and over-reacting. Do not suddenly speed ahead
in the hope of losing them. 
Remember that the point of counter-surveillance is to determine
whether you are being followed or not. Rather travel at normal
speed and then slightly reduce speed, giving normal traffic the
chance of overtaking you. If the following vehicle also reduces
speed, then begin to accelerate slightly. Is that vehicle copying
you? If so, turn off the main road and see if it follows. A
further turn or two in a quiet suburb or rural area will
establish whether you have a tail. 
There are many other ruses to determine this: 

*    Drive completely around a traffic circle as though you have
     missed your turn-off; 
*    Turn into a dead-end street as if by mistake; 
*    Turn into the driveway of a house or building and out again
     as if in error; 
*    Abruptly switch traffic lanes and unexpectedly turn left or
     right without indicating, but be sure there is no traffic
     cop about!  * Cross at a traffic light just as it turns red,

Such ruses will force a tail into unusual actions to keep up with
you but your actions must appear normal. 
Check Route 

The Check Route we previously described for checking surveillance
by foot can obviously be applied to vehicles. Your check route
must be well prepared and should include busy and quiet areas.
Also include stops at places such as garages and shops where you
can carry out some counter-surveillance on foot. You can carry
out your routine by yourself or with assistance. In this case
comrades are posted at check points along your route and observe
whether you are being tailed. It is a good idea to fit your car
with side-view mirrors for better observation, including one for
your passenger. At all costs avoid looking over your shoulder (a
highly suspicious action!) 

Enemy Tracking Device 

You should often check underneath your car in case the enemy has
placed a tracking device ('bumper bleeper') there. It is a small,
battery-operated, magnetically attached gadget that emits a
direction signal to a tailing vehicle. This enables the vehicle
to remain out of your sight. When you stop for some minutes,
however, your trackers will be curious about what you are up to.
This will force them to look for you. So your check routine
should involve stopping in a quiet or remote area. Get out of
your car and into a hidden position from where you can observe
any follow-up movement. If you have assistance stop your car at
a pre-arranged spot. Your comrades should drive past and check
whether a tail vehicle has halted just out of sight down the
The procedure of eluding those who are following you is called
`cutting the tail'. In order to do this effectively you must
study the location or areas where this can be done in advance.
When you find yourself in a situation where you need to break
surveillance, you deliberately lead those who are following you
to a favourable spot where `cutting the tail' can be achieved. 
1.Change of Clothing: 

You urgently need to visit an underground contact. For several
days your attempts have been frustrated because you have come to
realise that you are being closely watched and followed by the
police and their agents. You leave work as usual but carry a
shopping bag with a change of clothes. After casually wandering
around town you enter a cloakroom or such place where you can
quickly change clothing without being seen. It should be a place
where other people are constantly entering and leaving. You leave
within minutes, casually dressed in a T-shirt and sports cap.
Your shirt, jacket and tie are in your shopping bag. A bus area
makes it easier to slip away unnoticed. A reversible jacket, pair
of glasses and cap kept in a pocket are useful aids for a quick
change on the move. Women in particular can make a swift change
of clothing with ease, slipping on a wig and coat or even a man's
hat and jacket over a pair of jeans to confuse the tail! 
2.Jumping on and off a Bus: 

You are being tailed but must get to a secret meeting at all
costs. You could spend some time loitering around a busy shopping
area giving the impression that you are in no hurry to get
anywhere. Just as you notice a bus pulling away from a bus stop
you run after it and jump aboard. Keeping a good lookout for your
pursuers, you could jump off as it slows down at the next stop
and disappear around a busy corner. 
3.Crossing a Busy Street: 

You need to be quick and alert for this one! You deliberately
lead those following you down a busy street with heavy traffic.
When you notice a momentary break in the traffic, you could
suddenly sprint across the road as though your life depended on
it. By the time the tail has managed to find a break in the
traffic and cross after you, you could have disappeared in any
number of directions! 
4.Take the Last Taxi in the Rank: 

Occupy your time in a leisurely way near a taxi rank. You could
be window shopping or drinking tea at a cafe. When you notice
that there is only one taxi left at the rank, drop everything and
sprint over to it. By the time those following you have summoned
up their support cars you could have ordered the taxi to stop and
slipped away. 
5.Entering and Exiting a Building: 

A large, busy department store with many entrances, stairways,
lifts and floors is ideal for this one. After entering the
building quickly slip out by another exit. Busy hotels,
restaurants, recreation centres, railway stations, arcades,
shopping centres etc. are all useful locations for this trick. 
6.Ruses when Driving: 

It is more difficult to cut a tail when driving than when on foot
because a number of vehicles may be following you in parallel
streets. Fast and aggressive driving is necessary. Sudden changes
of speed and direction, crossing at a traffic light just as it
turns red, and a thorough knowledge of lanes, garages and places
where a car may be quickly concealed are possible ways in which
you may elude the tail.
7.Get Lost in a Crowd: 

It is particularly difficult for the tail to keep up with you in
crowded areas. Know the locality, be prepared, be quick-footed
and quick-witted! Be ready to take advantage of large
concentrations of people. Workers leaving a factory, spectators
at a sports fixture, crowds at a market, cinema, railway station
or rally offer all the opportunities you need. 
Mix this with the above tactics and you will give those trying
to tail you the headache and disappointment they so richly

Communications is vital to any form of human activity. When
people become involved in secret work they must master secret
forms of communication in order to survive detection and succeed
in their aims. Without effective secret communication no
underground revolutionary movement can function. In fact
effective communication is a pillar of underground work. Yet
communication between underground activists is their most
vulnerable point.

The enemy, his police, informers and agents are intently watching
known and suspect activists. They are looking for the links and
contact points between such activists which will give them away.
It is often at the point when such activists attempt to contact
or communicate with one another that they are observed and their
would-be secrets are uncovered. The enemy watches, sees who
contacts whom, the pounces, rounding up a whole network of
activists and their supporters. But there are many methods and
techniques or secret work, simple but special forms of
communication, available to revolutionaries to overcome this key

This section discusses these, in order to improve and perfect
secret forms of communication. These are used worldwide,
including by state security organs, so we are giving nothing away
to the enemy. Rather we are attempting to arm our people. These
methods are designed to outwit the enemy and to assure continuity
of work. The qualities required are reliability, discipline,
punctuality, continuity and vigilance - which spells out
efficiency in communication.

Before proceeding, however, let us illustrate what we are talking
about with an example: C - a member of an underground unit - is
meant to meet A and B at a secret venue. C is late and the two
others have left. C rushes around town trying to find them at
their homes, work place, favourite haunts. C tries phoning them
and leaves messages. C is particularly anxious because he has
urgent information for them. People start wondering why C is in
such a panic and why he is so desperate to contact A and B who
are two individuals whom they had never before associated with
C. When C finally contacts A and B they are angry with him for
two reasons. Firstly, that he came late for the appointment.
Secondly, that he violated the rules of secrecy by openly trying
to contact them. C offers an acceptable reason for his late-
coming (he could prove that his car broke down) and argues that
he had urgent information for them. He states that they had
failed to make alternative arrangement for a situation such as
one of them missing a meeting. Hence, he argues, he had no
alternative but to search for them. 

The above example is familiar to most activists. It creates two
problems for the conduct of secret work. It creates the obvious
security danger as well as leading to a breakdown in the
continuity of work.

What methods are open to such a unit, or between activists?

To answer this we will be studying two main areas of
communication. There are personal and non-personal forms of
communication. Personal are when two or more persons meet under
special conditions of secrecy. There are various forms of
personal meetings, such as regular, reserve, emergency, blind,
check and accidental. Then there are various non-personal forms
of communication designed to reduce the frequency of personal
meetings. Amongst these are such methods as using newspaper
columns, public phone boxes, the postal system, radios and the
method made famous in spy novels and films, the so-called dead-
letter-box or DLB, where messages are passed through secret
hiding places. Coding, invisible ink and special terms are used
to conceal the true or hidden meaning in messages or

From this we can immediately see a solution to C's failed meeting
with A and B. All they needed to arrange was a reserve meeting
place in the event of one or more of them failing to turn up at
the initial venue. This is usually at a different time and place
to the earlier meeting. The other forms of meetings cover all
In the previous section we began to discuss the methods members
of an underground unit should use when communicating with one
another. The most important requirement that must be solved is
how to meet secretly and reliably.

Let us suppose that comrade A has the task of organising an
underground unit with B and C. In the interests of secrecy they
must, as far as possible, avoid visiting one another at home or
at wok. (Such links must be kept to a minimum or even totally
avoided so that other people do not have the impression that they
are closely connected.)

First of all they need to have a regular or main meeting - let's
say every two weeks. For this meeting A lays down three
conditions. These are: place, time and legend.
Place of Meeting:

This must be easy to find, approach and leave. It must be a safe
place to meet, allowing privacy and a feeling of security. It
could be a friend's flat, office, picnic place, beauty spot,
beach, park, vehicle, quiet cafe, etc. The possibilities are
endless. It is essential that the meeting place be changed from
time to time. Sometimes, instead of indicating the meeting place,
A might instruct B and C to meet him at different contact points
on the route to the meeting such as outside a cinema, bus stop
etc. This can provide a greater degree of security. But it is
best to begin with the most simple arrangements.


Date and time of the meeting must be clearly memorised.
Punctuality is essential. If anyone fails to arrive at the
meeting place within the prearranged time the meeting must be
cancelled. As a rule the time for waiting must never exceed ten
minutes. Under no circumstances must a comrade proceed to the
meeting if he or she finds themselves under surveillance.


This is an invented but convincing explanation (cover story) as
to why A, B and C are always together at the same place at the
same time. The legend will depend on the type of people who are
meeting. Suppose A and B are black men and C is an older, white
woman. Since it would look unusual and attract attention if they
met at a park or picnic place, A has decided on an office which
C has loaned from a reliable friend. They meet at 5.30pm when the
office is empty. C has told her friend that she requires the
premises in order to interview some people for a job or some
story to that effect. On the desk she will have interview notes
and other documents to support her story and B and C will carry
job applications or references. If anyone interrupts the meeting
or if they are questioned later, they will have a convincing
explanation for their meeting.

Order of the Meeting:

At the start of the meeting A checks on the well-being and
security of each comrade, particularly whether everything was in
order on their route to the meeting. Did they check for possible
surveillance? Next A will inform them of the legend for the
meeting. Then, before business is discussed, A will pass around
a piece of paper with the time and place of the next meeting
written on it. Nothing is spoken in case the meeting is `bugged'.
This matter is settled in case they are interrupted and have to
leave the meeting in a hurry. In such an event they already know
the conditions for the next meeting and continuity of contact is
Reserve Meeting:

In arranging the regular meeting of the unit, A takes into
account the possibility of one or more of them failing to get to
that meeting. He therefore explains the conditions for a reserve
meeting. These also include place, time and legend. Whilst the
time for a reserve meeting may be the same as a regular meeting
(but obviously on a different day), the place must always differ.
A instructs them that if a regular meeting fails to take place
they must automatically meet two days later at such-and-such a
time and place. The conditions for a reserve meeting might be
kept constant, not changing as often as those of the regular
meeting, because the need for such a meeting may not often arise.
But A takes care to remind the comrades of these conditions at
every regular meeting.
Having arranged conditions for both regular and reserve meetings,
A feels confident that he has organised reliability and
continuity of such contact. It is necessary for all to observe
the rules of secrecy, and to be punctual, reliable, disciplined
and vigilant about such meetings.
But what if comrade A needs to see B and C suddenly and urgently
and cannot wait for the regular meeting?


The leader of an underground unit, comrade A, has arranged
regular and reserve meetings with B and C. This allows for
reliability and continuity of contact in the course of their
secret work. This has been progressing well. Comrade A decides
to organise other forms of meetings with them because of the
complexity of work.

1. Emergency Meeting:

The comrades have found that they sometimes need to meet urgently
between their regular meetings. An emergency meeting is for the
rapid establishment of contact should the comrades need to see
each other between the set meetings.

There are similar conditions as for a regular meeting such as:
Time, Place and Legend. The additional element is a signal for
calling the meeting. This signal might be used by either the unit
leader A or the other cell members, when they need to convey
urgent information. A confirmation signal is also necessary which
indicates that the call signal has been seen or understood. This
must never be placed at the same location as the call signal.


These are prearranged signs, phrases, words, marks or objects put
in specified places such as on objects in the streets, on
buildings etc., or specified phrases in postcards, letters, on
the telephone etc.

Example of Emergency Meeting:

Comrade A has directed that the venue for the unit's Emergency
meeting is a certain park bench beside a lake. The time is for
5.30pm on the same day that the call signal is used. As with
Regular meetings he also indicates a Reserve venue for the
Emergency meeting. Comrade A arranges different call signals for
B and C, which they can also use if they need to summon him.

Call and Answer Signal for B:

This signal could be a `chalk mark' placed by A on a certain
lamp-post. Comrade A knows that B walks passed the pole every
morning at a certain time on his way to work. B must always be
on the look-out for the chalk mark. This could simply be the
letter `X' in red chalk. By 2pm. that day B must have responded
with the confirmation signal. This could be a piece of coloured
string wound round a fence near a bus stop. It could equally be
a piece of blue chalk crushed into the pavement by the steps of
a building or some graffiti scrawled on a poster (in other words
anything clear, visible and innocent-looking). The two comrades
can now expect to meet each other at the park bench later that

Call and Answer Signal for C:

C has a telephone at home. Before she leaves for work, comrade
A phones her from a public call-box. He pretends to dial a wrong
number. `Good morning, is that Express Dairy?' he asks. `Sorry,
wrong number', C replies and adds: `Not such a good morning, you
got me out of the bath'. This is C's innocent way of confirming
that she has understood the signal. Obviously such a signal
cannot be repeated.

2. Check Meeting

This is a `meeting' between the unit leader and a subordinate
comrade to establish only through visual contact whether the
comrade is all right. Such a check-up becomes necessary when a
comrade has been in some form of danger and where direct physical
contact is unsafe to attempt, such as if the comrade has been
questioned by the police or been under surveillance.

There are a number of conditions for such a meeting: Date and
Time; Place or Route of movement; Actions; Legend; Signals -
indicating danger or well-being.

Example of Check Meeting:

C has been questioned by the police. As a result contact with her
has been cut. After a few days comrade A wants to check how she
is and calls her through a signal to a Check meeting.

At 4pm. on the day following the call signal C goes shopping. She
wears a yellow scarf indicating that she was subject to mild
questioning and that everything has appeared normal since. She
follows a route which takes her past the Post Office by 4.20pm.
She does not know where A is but he has taken up a position which
conceals his presence and gives him a good view of C. He is also
able to observe whether C is being followed. On passing the Post
Office C stops to blow her nose. This is to reinforce her feeling
that everything is now normal. It is for A to decide whether to
restore contact with C or to leave her on `ice' for a while
longer, subjecting her to further checks.


The leader of an underground unit, comrade A, receives
instructions from the leadership to meet comrade D. Comrade D is
a new recruit, whom the leadership are assigning to A's unit. A
and D are strangers to one another. Conditions are therefore
drawn up for a Blind Meeting - that is a meeting between two
underground workers who are unknown to one another. 

Recognition signs and passwords 

There are similar conditions as for regular and other forms of
meeting, such as date, time, place, action of subordinate and
legend. In addition, there is the necessity for recognition signs
and passwords, which are to aid in identification. 

The recognition signs enable the commander or senior, in this
case A, to identify the subordinate from a safe distance and at
close quarters. Two recognition signs are therefore needed. 

The passwords, including the reply, are specially prepared words
and phrases which are exchanged and give the go-ahead for the
contact to begin. These signs and phrases must look normal and
not attract attention to outsiders. 

At this point the reader should prepare an example for a blind
meeting and compare it with the example we have given. Our
example has been purposely printed upside down to encourage the
reader to participate in this suggested exercise. Do remember
that all the examples given in our series are also read by the
enemy, so do not blindly copy them. They are suggestions to
assist activists with their own ideas. 

Example of Blind Meeting Place: Toyshop on Smith Street. 

Date and Time: December 20th, 6pm. 

Action: Comrade D to walk down street in easterly direction, to
stop at Toyshop and gaze at toy display for five minutes. 

Legend: D is simply walking about town carrying out window
shopping. When A makes contact they are to behave as though they
are strangers who have just struck up a friendship. 

Recognition signs: D carries an OK Bazaars shopping bag. The
words `OK' have been underlined with a black pen (for close-up


A: Pardon me, but do you know whether this shop sells childrens'
books?  B: I don't know. There are only toys in the window. 
A: I prefer to give books for presents. 

Note: The opening phrase will be used by A after he has observed
D's movements and satisfied himself that the recognition signs
are correct and that D has not been followed. A completes the
passwords with a closing phrase which satisfies D that A is the
correct contact. The two can now walk off together or A might
suggest a further meeting somewhere else. 

Brush Meeting 

This is a brief meeting where material is quickly and silently
passed from one comrade to another. Conditions for such a
meeting, such as place, time and action, are carefully planned
beforehand. No conversation takes place. Money, reports or
instructions are swiftly transferred. Split-second timing is
necessary and contact must take place in a dead zone i.e. in
areas where passing the material cannot be seen. 

For example, as D walks down the steps of a department store A
passes D and drops a small package into D's shopping bag. 

'Accidental' Meeting 

This is, in fact, a deliberate contact made by the commander
which comes as a surprise to the subordinate. In other words, it
takes place without the subordinate's foreknowledge. 

An `accidental' meeting takes place where: 
a)   there has been a breakdown in communication. 
b)   the subordinate is not fully trusted and the commander wants
     to have an `unexpected' talk with him or her. 

The commander must have good knowledge of the subordinate's
movements and plan his or her actions before, during and after
the meeting.


Comrade A has been mainly relying on personal forms of
communication to run the underground unit. With the police
stepping up their search for revolutionary activists he decides
to increase the use of non-personal communication.

These are forms of secret communication carried out without
direct contact. These do not replace the essential meetings of
the unit, but reduce the number of times the comrades need to
meet, thereby minimising the risks.

The Main Forms: 

These are telephone, postal system, press, signals, radio and
dead letter box (DLB). The first three are in everyday use and
can be used for secret work if correctly exploited. Signals can
be used as part of the other forms or as a system on their own.
Radio communication (coded) will be used by higher organs of the
Movement and not by a unit like A's. The DLB is the most
effective way of passing on material and information without
personal contact.

Comrade A introduces these methods cautiously because
misunderstandings are possible. People prefer face-to-face
contact so confidence and skill must be developed.

Telephone, Post and Press: 

These are reliable means of secret communication if used
properly. Used carelessly in the past they have been the source
of countless arrests. The enemy intercepts telephone calls and
mail going to known activists and those they regard as
suspicious. Phone calls can be traced and telexes as well as
letters intercepted. International communication is especially
vulnerable. For example, a phone call from Botswana to Soweto is
likely to arouse the enemy's interest. What is required are safe
phones and addresses through which can be passed innocent-
sounding messages for calling meetings, re-establishing contact,
warning of danger, etc.


This allows for the urgent transmission of a signal or message.
The telephone must be used with a reliable and convincing coding
system and legend. Under no circumstances must the phone be used
for involved discussion on sensitive topics.

Comrade A has already used the phone to call C to an emergency
meeting (See No 14 of this series). The arrangement was that he
pretended to dial a wrong number. This was the signal to meet at
a pre-arranged place and time.

Up to now he has been meeting with her to collect propaganda
material. He now wishes to signal her when to pick it up herself,
but prefers to avoid phoning her at home or work. If she takes
lunch regularly at a certain cafe or is at a sports club at a
certain time or near a public phone, he knows how to reach her
when he wishes.

A simple call such as the following is required: `Is that Miss
So-and-So? This is Ndlovu here. I believe you want to buy my Ford
Escort? If so, you can view it tomorrow.' This could mean that
C must collect the propaganda material at a certain place in two
days time. The reference to a car is a code for picking up
propaganda material; Ndlovu is the code name for the pick-up
place; tomorrow means two days time (two days time would mean
three days).


This can be used to transmit similar messages as above. A
telegram or greeting card with the message that `Uncle Morris is
having an operation' could be a warning from A to C to cut
contact and lie low until further notice because of possible
danger. The use of a particular kind of picture postcard could
be a signal for a meeting at a pre-arranged place ten days after
the date on the card. Signals can be contained in the form the
sender writes the address, the date or the greeting. `My dear
friend' together with the fictitious address of the sender - `No
168 Fox Street' - means to be ready for a leaflet distribution
and meet at 16 hours on the 8th of the month at a venue code-
named `Fox'.

Many such forms of signals can be used in letters. Even the way
the postage stamp is placed can be of significance.


This is the use of the classified ads section: `Candy I miss you.
Please remember our Anniversary of the 22nd, love Alan'. This
could be A's arrangement for re-establishing contact with C if
she has gone into hiding. The venue and time will have been pre-
arranged, but the advert will signal the day. Such ads give many
possibilities not only in the press but on notice boards in
colleges, hostels, shopping centres, and so on.


Comrade A has been introducing various forms of Non-Personal
Communications (NPC) to his underground unit. At times he has
carefully used the telephone, post and press to pass on innocent-
sounding messages, (see No.16 of this series). Key phrases,
spoken and written, have acted as signals for calling meetings,
warning of danger etc. He has also used graphic signals, such as
a chalk mark on a lamp post, or an object like a coloured piece
of string tied to a fence, as call and answer signs (see No.14).

Signals can be used for a variety of reasons and are essential
in secret work. They greatly improve the level of security of the
underground and help to avoid detection by the enemy forces. 

Everyday Signals 

The everyday use of signals shows how useful they are in
conveying messages, and what an endless variety exists. Road
traffic is impossible without traffic lights (where colour
carries the message) and road signs (where symbols or graphics
are used). Consider how hand signals are used in different ways
not only to direct traffic but for countless purposes from sport
to soldiers on patrol. Everybody uses the thumbs-up signal to
show that all is well. Consider how police and robbers use
signals and you will realise how important they are for
underground work. In fact in introducing this topic to his unit
Comrade A asks them to give examples of everyday signals. The
reader should test his or her imagination in this respect. 

For our purpose signals are divided into TYPE and USAGE. 

* Type: 

Sound - voice, music, whistle, animal sound, knocking etc. 
Colour - all the hues of the rainbow! 
Graphic - drawing, figures, letters, numbers, marks, graffiti,
symbols etc. Actions -
ehaviour/movement of a person or vehicle. 
Objects - the placing or movement of anything from sticks and
stones to flower pots and flags. 

* Use: 

To call all forms of meetings; to instruct people to report to
a certain venue or individual; to instruct people to prepare for
a certain task or action; to inform of danger or well-being; to
indicate that a task has been carried out; to indicate a presence
or absence of surveillance; to indicate recognition between

Whatever signals are invented to cover the needs of the unit they
must be simple, easy to understand and not attract attention.

Here are some examples of how signals can be used: One example
is included which is bad from the security point of view. See if
you can spot it. Consider each example in terms of type and

*    Comrade A draws a red arrow on a wall to call B to an
     emergency meeting.  
*    D whistles a warning to C, who is slipping a leaflet under
     a door, indicating that someone is approaching. 
*    B stops at a postbox and blows his nose, indicating to A,
     observing from a safe distance, that he is being followed. 
*    D hangs only blue washing on his clothes line to indicate
     that the police have visited him and that he believes he is
     in danger.  
*    B enters a hotel wearing a suit with a pink carnation and
     orders a bottle of champagne. These are signals to C that
     she should join him for a secret discussion. 
*    C, having to deliver weapons to `Esther', whom she has not
     met before, must park her car at a rest-spot venue on the
     highway. C places a tissue-box on the dash-board and drinks
     a can of cola. These are the recognition signals for E to
     approach her and ask the way to the nearest petrol station.
     This phrase and a Mickey-Mouse key-ring held by E are the
     signs which show C that E is her blind contact. (Note: both
     will use false number plates on their cars to remain
     anonymous from each other).
*    C places a strip of coloured sticky tape inside a public
     telephone box to inform A that she has successfully
     delivered weapons to E.

The bad example? D's pink carnation and champagne draws unwanted


Comrade A's underground unit has been mastering forms of Non-
Personal Communication to make their work secret and efficient.
Comrade A feels they now have sufficient experience to use the
DLB, sometimes called a `dead drop', to pass literature, reports
and funds between one another.

The DLB 

It is a hiding place such as a hollow in a tree or the place
under the floorboards. It is used like a `post box' to pass
material between two people.

To give a definition: A DLB is a natural or man-made hiding place
for the storage and transfer of material.

It can be a large space for hiding weapons or small for messages.
It can be located inside buildings or out of doors; in town or
countryside. It can be in natural spaces such as the tree or
floorboards, or manufactured by the operative, such as a hollowed
out fence pole or a hole in the ground. It is always camouflaged.

Selecting the DLB 

It is very important to carefully select the place where the DLB
is to be located. Follow the rules:

*    It must be easy to describe and find. Avoid complicated or
     confusing descriptions which make it difficult for your
     partner to find it.

*    It must be safe and secure. It must be well concealed from
     casual onlookers. Beware of places where children play,
     gardeners work or tramps hang-out. It must not be near enemy
     bases or places where guards are on duty. It must not be
     overlooked by buildings and windows.

*    It must allow for safe deposit and removal of material. The
     operatives must feel secure about their actions in
     depositing and removing material. They must be able to check
     whether they are being watched. The place must be in keeping
     with their public image and legend.

*    It must allow for weather conditions and time of day. DLBs
     can be exposed or damaged by rain or flooding. Some
     locations may be suspicious to approach by day and dangerous
     by night.


This involves constructing and camouflaging the DLB; making a
diagram; working out a signal system and security arrangements.
If you are burying the material put it in a tin, bottle or
weather-proof container.

*    Once you have selected the place for your DLB you will have
     to prepare it. This will usually take place under cover of
     night whether you are digging a hole or hollowing out a
     cavity in a tree and camouflaging it.

*    You will have to make an accurate description, preferably
     including a simple diagram.

*    You will have to work out a signal system for yourself and
     partner indicating deposit and removal of material.

*    Finally, work out a check route to and from the DLB and a
     legend for being there.

Example of DLB 

Comrade A has spotted a loose brick in a wall. The wall is
located along a little used path and shielded by trees. At night
he hollows-out a space behind the brick, large enough to take a
small package. The loose brick is the tenth along the wall,
second row down. The brick fits securely into the wall but can
be quickly removed with the use of a nail. The operation takes
ten seconds and the footsteps of any stranger approaching can be
easily heard.

A's Description of the DLB 

Reference No. DLB 3. `Loose Brick in wall' 

Location: Path leading from Fourth Street to Golf Course 

Direction: In Fourth Street, just past the 61 Bus Stop, is the
path, with red brick wall on the right, wooden fence on the left.
Three paces down the path, on the right, just before a tree, is
the DLB, in the brick wall.

The DLB:

It is a loose brick, with white paint smudge. As you walk down
the path from Fourth Street, it is the tenth brick along the
wall, second row from top. In the space between this brick and
the ninth brick is a hole. Place a nail into this hole to help
prise out the brick. The space behind the brick holds a package
wrapped in plastic with dimensions: 12x6x3 cm. After removing the
package replace brick using blue tack (or other sealing
substance) to hold it in place.  


1. After A deposits material he ties a piece of red string to a
fence signalling that the DLB is `loaded'. 2. After B removes
material from the DLB he draws a chalk mark signal on a pole.

Note: Signals must not be in the DLB's vicinity.

Carrying Out the Operation 
The use of the DLB is an operation which must be carefully
planned as follows: 

Comrade A: 

1.   Prepares material (packaging and camouflaging)   
2.   Checks route for surveillance 
3.   Observes situation at DLB 
4.   Places material (if no surveillance) 
5.   Return route to check for surveillance 
6.   Places signal indicating deposit 
7.   Returns home 

Comrade B:

1.   Sees signal of deposit 
2.   Checks route 
3.   Observes situation at DLB 
4.   Removes material (if no surveillance) 
5.   Return route to check for surveillance) 
6.   Places signal of removal 
7.   Returns home. 

Comrade A:

1.   Checks signal of removal 
2.   Removes signals 
3.   Reports success 
Note: It is important that both A and B check that they are not
being followed when they go to the DLB and after leaving it. 


We have been discussing the use of the dead letter box (DLB)
through which underground members secretly pass material to each
other. There are various types of DLBs: 

1.   Stationary DLBs are fixed places such as a camouflaged hole
     in the ground, hollow tree trunk or fence pole, loose brick
     in a wall (as described in last issue). 

2.   Portable DLBs are containers which can be carried and left
     in innocent places to be picked up, e.g. discarded cigarette
     pack, hollowed-out stick or fake piece of rock. 

3.   Mobile DLBs are in different types of transport (car, bus,
     train, boat or plane) and are used to communicate between
     operatives who live far apart. 

4.   Magnetic DLBs: A simple magnet attached to a container
     increases opportunities for finding places to leave your
     DLB. With the aid of magnets you are able to clamp your DLB
     to any metal object such as behind a drain pipe, under the
     rail of a bridge, under a vehicle, etc. 

Comrade `A' will use a variety of DLBs with `B'. Never use a
stationary DLB too often because this increases the risk of being
spotted. The advantage of a portable DLB is that the place where
it is left can be constantly changed. Because of the danger of
a stranger picking it up by chance the time between making the
drop and the pick-up by your partner must not be long. 

5.   Portable DLB - `Wooden Stick': 

Buy a piece of plastic tubing or pipe. Cut off a 30cm length.
Glue pieces of bark around it to make it look like a twig. With
a little patience you will be surprised at how realistic you can
make it. You have a portable DLB into which you can insert
material. Work out a suitable location where it can be safely
dropped for a pick-up. You can carry it up your sleeve and drop
it in long grass or into a bush near an easy-to-locate reference
point. It must be concealed from passers-by and nosey dogs! 

Alternatively you can try hollowing out an actual piece of
branch, or splitting it down the side and gluing it. But you will
probably find the plastic pipe easier to handle and longer-

6.   Portable DLB - `Hollow Rock': Experiment with plaster of
     paris (which you can buy from a chemist) and mould it into
     the shape of a rock. Allow enough of a hollow to hide
     material. With paint and mud you can make it look like a
     realistic rock. Carry it to the drop-off point in a shopping

(Note: the above can serve as a portable DLB as well as a useful
hiding place for the storage of sensitive material around the

7.   Mobile DLB: Comrade `A' uses the Johannesburg to Durban
     train to send material to comrades down at the coast. There
     are numerous hiding places on trains, as with other forms
     of transport, and if you use magnets the possibilities are
     increased. Removing a panel in a compartment provides a
     useful hiding place. Comrade `A' does this long before the
     train's departure, before other passengers arrive. He has
     a telephonic signal system with the Durban comrades to
     indicate when the material is on its way and how to locate
     it. They might get on the train before it reaches Durban.
     Whatever the case, the operational system must be carefully
     studied at both ends. 


Our series would not be complete if we did not deal with failure
in the underground and how to react to setbacks. 


When members of the underground are exposed, arrested or killed,
when the underground structure is broken-up or destroyed by the
enemy - failure has occurred. Failure can be where PARTIAL only
some members are affected or COMPLETE, where the entire network
or machinery is smashed. OPEN failures are those that the enemy
chooses to publicise. CONCEALED failures occur when the enemy
succeeds in infiltrating the underground with its agents but
keeps this secret. In this case they make no immediate arrests
choosing instead to patiently obtain information over a long


There are numerous causes of arrests and setbacks. 

a) Violating the rules of secrecy: 

This is one of the main causes of failure. To carry out secret
work  successfully everyone must strictly follow the
organisational & personal rules of behaviour that have been
outlined in this series. 

Common violation of the rules are: 

*    failure to limit the number of links between persons
     (knowledge of others must be limited) 

*    not keeping to the principle of vertical lines of
     communication (eg. a cell leader must not have horizontal
     contact with other cell leaders but only with a contact from
     the higher organ) 

*    failure to compartmentalise or isolate different organs from
     one another (eg. comrades responsible for producing
     propaganda must not take part in its distribution) 

*    poor discipline (eg: loose talk; carelessness with
     documents; conspicuous or unnatural behaviour etc.) 

*    poor recruitment practises (eg: failure to check on person's
     background; failure to test reliability; selecting one's
     friends without considering genuine qualities etc.) 

*    failure to use codes and conceal real identities 

*    weak cover stories 

*    legends 

*    poor preparation of operations & meetings 

*    violating the rule of "knowing only as much as you need to

*    not using the standard methods of personal and impersonal

*    inadequate preparation of comrades for arrest and
     interrogation so that they reveal damaging information. 

b) Weak knowledge of the operational situation: 

This means not paying sufficient attention to the conditions in
the area where you carry out your tasks. Comrades are often
caught because they failed to study the methods used by the
enemy, the time of police patrols, guard system, use of informers
etc. Mistakes are made if you fail to take into account the
behaviour of local people, cultural mannerisms and habits, forms
of dress etc. Knowledge of political, economic, geographic and
transport conditions are part of the operational picture. 

c) Weakly trained and poorly selected operatives: 

The underground can only be as strong as its members. Poorly
trained leaders result in weak leadership, weak communication
links and poor training of subordinates. This leads to wrong
decisions and incorrect behaviour throughout the structure and
a whole series of mistakes. Care and caution are the key to the
selection of capable leaders and recruitment of operatives. 

d) Weak professional, political and personal qualities: 

Serious shortcomings in the qualities required for underground
work can lead to failure. For example a comrade who is sound
politically and has good operational skills but who drinks
heavily or gambles can put a machinery at risk. Similarly a
person with good professional and personal qualities but who is
politically confused can be the cause of failure. And a person
with good political understanding and fine personal qualities but
who has weak operational capability is best used for legal work. 

e) Chance or accident:

An unlucky incident can lead to arrest but is the least likely
cause of failure.


Following the principles and rules of secrecy greatly reduces the
possibility of failure - "Prevention is better than cure". But
when failure occurs we must already be armed with the plans and
procedures for dealing with the situation. 


When the principles and rules of secrecy are poorly applied
failure and arrests follow. The main dangers come from
infiltration by enemy agents or the arrest of comrades on
operations. DETECTING failure means to be aware of the danger in
good time. LOCALISING failure means to act in order to quickly
contain the crisis and prevent the damage spreading. The
following are the main points to consider: 


It is only possible to detect and localise failure if the
underground has been built on a solid basis according to the
correct organisational principles. A study and review of the
structure, lines of communication and the personnel is an
essential part of secret work. But it becomes impossible to
obtain a clear picture if the underground has been loosely and
incorrectly put together and is composed of some unsuitable
persons. In such a situation it becomes very difficult to correct
mistakes and prevent infiltration. A network which is tightly
organised, operates according to the rules of secrecy and is
cleared of unsuitable operatives is easier to review and manage. 


This is part of the work of reviewing the machinery. It must be
carried out discretely so as not to alert the enemy or undermine
the confidence of operatives. 

a) Review the suspects behaviour, movement and performance;

b) check with co-workers, friends, family; 

c) carry out surveillance by the security organ after exhausting
the other checks to determine whether there are links with the


*    they try to win your confidence by smooth talk and

*    they try to arouse your interest by big talk and promises; 

*    try to get information and names from you which is no
     business of theirs; 
*    try to get you to rearrange lines of communication and
     contact points to help police surveillance; 

*    may show signs of nervousness, behave oddly, show excessive

*    may pressurise you to speed up their recruitment or someone
     they have recommended; 

*    ignore instructions, fail to observe rules of secrecy;

good comrades can be guilty of lapses in behaviour from time to
time, and agents can be very clever. So do not jump to
conclusions but study the suspect's behaviour with care and
patience. Sooner or later they will make a mistake. 


This involves two things: acting against infiltration when it is
detected and acting against exposure of the machinery and
preventing further arrests, capture of documents, material etc. 

a) Acting against infiltration:

The severity of action will depend on the stage reached and the
danger posed. The enemy agent may be: 

*    cut-off without explanation; 

*    politely cut-off with a good, believable pretext (eg. told
     the underground unit is being dissolved); 

*    "frozen" - told they are not being involved because they are
     being held in reserve; 

*    arrested and taken out of the country as a prisoner; 

*    eliminated - where they pose serious danger to the survival
     of comrades and there is no other way. 

b) Avoiding arrest: 

*    The moment it is known that a comrade has been arrested
     those whose identities he or she could reveal must
     immediately go into hiding. Most arrests take place because
     this rule is ignored. Even if it is believed that the
     arrested comrade is unlikely to break this precaution must
     be observed. 

*    Everyone must have an "ESCAPE PLAN". This includes an early
     warning system; assistance; safe hiding place; funds;
     transport; disguise; new documents of identity; 

*    Endangered comrades may "lie low" until the threat passes
     or work in another part of the country or leave the country; 

*    All links must be cut with a comrade who has come under
     enemy suspicion or surveillance. In this case the comrade
     may be "put on ice" until the danger has passed.

*    All documents, incriminating material etc. must be destroyed
     or removed from storage places known to the arrested comrade
     including from his or her house and place of work; 

*    All comrades must be instructed on how to behave if
     arrested. They must refuse to give away their fellow
     comrades and strive to resist even under torture. The longer
     they resist the more time they give their comrades to
     disappear and get rid of evidence.

*    Everything must be done to help the arrested comrade by
     providing legal representation, publicity, food and reading
     material if possible, solidarity with the family, organising