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Book review by Bob Newland (Morning Star, 13.4.24).

 The Lion Conspiracy

Peter Hain, Muswell Press, £14.99

IN 2024 we celebrate 30 years of the end of apartheid and South Africa’s first democratic, non-racial elections. It is a momentous year when the ANC faces the possibility of losing its majority as a result of years of failure to overcome the legacy of apartheid and the scandals of corruption and state capture.

This is the third in Peter Hain’s “Conspiracy” series of thrillers and doesn’t disappoint. Set in his beloved South Africa, the plot moves back and forth between the apartheid period, the impact of corruption, particularly during the Zuma period and the ongoing battle with the international criminal trade in animal products, gold and diamonds. At the heart of this trade are many disgraced ANC leaders, drug dealers and arms smugglers.

As the drama unfolds, Hain reintroduces some familiar figures. Central is “the Veteran” — a thinly disguised Ronnie Kasrils — former MK intelligence director and subsequent minister in several South African post-apartheid governments.

The Veteran leads a team of activists and specialists combatting the slaughter of endangered species for rich pickings. They are engaged in challenging and exposing those behind these and many linked crimes. Key to the team are “Thandi,” the main activist and investigator, and “the Sniper,” a former apartheid regime assassin, now fighting the poachers on the game reserves which they target. read more

Kurt Karl - Gunrunner

We are thrilled to announce the discovery of a new London Recruit who only came to our notice in December 2022. Recruited in London, he hails from Oregon, USA. He secured a job working for the Swaziland government in Mbabane from where, over a number of years, he smuggled weapons, five times from Swaziland into South Africa and, on one occasion, to Lesotho.

Kurt only recently decided to break his silence. Read his story here:

June Stephen

We are sad to announce that London Recruit June Stephen died on 5 August 2022. She had been bedridden at her home in Oxford for many years but was taken into hospital with Covid and this was apparently the last straw. June (from New York) and her Scottish husband Michael Stephen (deceased 1999) spent eight years from 1977-1985 working with the ANC in countries across southern Africa. They worked closely with Ronnie Kasrils, Albie Sachs, Bobby Pillay, Rae and Ivan Pillay, Peter Smith, Ebrahim Ismael Ebrahim and Daniel Ahern amongst others, in the struggle against apartheid.

Dr Snuki Zikalala, President of the ANC Veterans’ league, has sent the following message to June’s daughter Monica - Click here

BBC World Service - Witness History, The Leaflet Bomber

London Recruit Bob Newland was interviewed on the BBC World Service and it was broadcast on 29 July 2022. The broadcast lasts only 9 minutes, although Bob says that the interview lasted much longer than that.

NEU London Recruits Teachers Pack

The National Education Union has produced a London Recruits teachers' pack for teachers to use in schools. This fits in neatly with the current demand for reform of the curriculum to take account of the true history of the British Empire and its role in promoting racism. You can download it here:

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Pete Smith sent us this tribute to the outstanding struggle veteran Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, who died on 6 December 2021.

 It was a great honour to work with him in Swaziland during late 1985 and early 1986, sharing two safe houses with him. I will never forget arriving home from teaching to find him studying Kim Il-sung. Ebie had a clear understanding of Marxism in helping me to further understand the struggle of his people and was an outstanding internationalist. I am not surprised that he initiated the joint statement in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn having had the whip withdrawn by Sir Keir Starmer.


Bolton recruit: the story of anti-racist activist Ramila Patel

The story of Ramila Patel, Bolton raised trade union and anti-racist activist who was recruited to work undercover for the African National Congress in South Africa in the 1980s.

Death of an anti-apartheid fighter 

I am sad to report the death, on 3 September, of Marie-José Moumbaris. She was 70 and died of a stroke in her home in Normandy. She was one of the African National Congress’s “London Recruits” and campaigned for a better world until her death. Read here

Steve Marsling on Teaching with ACTSA

It is with sadness that we have to report that our comrade John O'Malley has died. To read John's story, see here.

You can also read John O'Malley's obituary in the Guardian

Report of SA visit - Ken Keable

The South African Communist Party, at its congress in Boksburg, has today (14 July 2017) honoured the London Recruits with its Special Recognition Award. Ken Keable went to the congress, as a guest, to accept the award on behalf of all the Recruits and was introduced by Ronnie Kasrils. Here is the text of his speech.

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Ken Keable then and now.



Comrade chair, distinguished guests, comrades!

I am very proud to receive this award on behalf of all the London Recruits. It is a great honour for us all.

I am pleased to be accompanied on this platform by two other Recruits: comrade Ian Beddowes, who worked undercover in three of the frontline states and now lives in Johannesburg where he works on the staff of the SACP; and comrade Bob Newland, who set off leaflet bombs in Johannesburg in 1971 and spent eight dangerous weeks in South Africa in 1972, preparing for the arrival of a detachment of MK fighters by sea in a ship which, unfortunately, had to abort the mission because of engine trouble.

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London Recruits trailer from London Recruits. 

The report below came from an edition of The African Communist in 1981. It refers to leaflet bombs placed by London Recruits Will Gee and 'Simon'.




Although published in February 2012, the book was officially launched on 11 July 2012 in a packed committee room at the House of Commons, London. The event was chaired by the Rt Hon Peter Hain MP (who is South African born and was a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner in his youth) and attended by the South African High Commissioner, Dr Zola Sweyiya, and by Ronnie Kasrils, the ANC official who had sent many of the Recruits on their missions. This amateur video was taken by one of the Recruits, who wishes to remain nameless. A few of the Recruits had just returned from a tour of South Africa, where they had been warmly received. Some of the Recruits present had never met before.

Among the speakers are Peter Hain MP, Ronnie Kasrils (SACP), Ken Keable (CPB, Editor), Sean Hosey (a YCL member who was arrested, tortured and jailed in South Africa), Katherine Levine (who smuggled arms), George Bridges, His Excellency Mr Zola Skweyiya (the South African High Commissioner) and Recruits John Rose (SWP) Mary Chamberlain andBob Newland.

The book records an inspiring episode in the history of the Communist Party, the Young Communist League and the Socialist Workers' Party, though it is important to note that some of the Recruits had no political label.

The video is a wonderful record of a historic and unforgettable occasion. About 100 people were present, including many more of the London Recruits who went on clandestine missions to South Africa from 1967 onwards to help the liberation struggle of theANC and SACP.

Leaflet Bomb

Buy book here

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The Secret War Against Apartheid

Compiled and edited by Ken Keable
With an introduction by Ronnie Kasrils and a foreword by Z. Pallo Jordan

The history of the Anti-Apartheid movement brings up images of boycotts and public campaigns in the UK. But another story went on behind the scenes, in secret, one that has been never told before. 

This is the story of the foreign recruits and their activities in South Africa, how they acted in defiance of the Apartheid government and its police on the instructions of the African National Congress. It tells of:

- ANC Banners that unfurled 
- ANC speeches that sounded through public places
- Buckets that exploded and showered ANC leaflets 
- Transportation of weapons, communications, logistics
- Helping ANC fighters to enter South Africa, 

- and more…..

Many recruits were Young Communists, others were Trotskyists or independent socialists; from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA, and they all took amazing risks. 

Some paid a heavy price for their support. This is their untold story.

Royalties from this book will go to The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

ISBN. 978-0-85036-655-6 - 364 pages, 216 x 138 mm., paperback - Published in February 2012 - Price:£15.95