2. THE FORMATION OF THE SELOUS SCOUTS
the period after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence Special Branch was
the first to employ methods of gathering intelligence that could be termed as
pseudo operations. These were first conducted in the Zwimba and Chirau Tribal
Trust Lands during 1966 and were continued in these areas on an informal basis
up to 1973. These first attempts were unsophisticated and mainly aimed at
determining the loyalties of members of the local population.
the traditional sources of Security Force intelligence had been functioning
adequately inside Rhodesia up to 1971, a drastic change resulted from ZANLA
penetration into the North-east during 1972. Security Forces suddenly found
themselves in an actively hostile environment late in 1972.
the end of that year Rhodesian authorities were fast becoming aware that the
security situation in the North-east was deteriorating rapidly. What had seemed
to be an effective and sound network of informers dried up in a matter of weeks.
Although aware of insurgent presence and intimidation, lack of operational
intelligence forestalled effective counter-measures. This lack of detailed and
accurate information now led to the regeneration of the concept of pseudo
former second-in-command of the Rhodesian Light Infantry was by this stage
Officer Commanding 2 Brigade. Against the background of an almost total lack of
operational intelligence and declining Army morale, Brigadier Hickman obtained
permission to restart a pilot pseudo scheme. Similar interest had been revived
in Special Branch.
the approval of Joint Operation Center Hurricane, Superintendent Peterson of
Special Branch Harare formed an all—black pseudo team on 26 January 1973. The
team of six men, two African Detective Constables and four former insurgents
were placed under the command of the Special Branch officer at Bindura.
Following rudimentary training the team was alternatively deployed in Bushu and
Madziwa Tribal Trust Lands, near Saint Albert’s Mission and in Chinamora
Tribal Trust Land near Harare. While some useful information was gathered, these
operations led to no insurgent casualties. At the time the lack of white
leadership and expertise in the team was identified as the major problem. For a
few months the team was disbanded, but eventually reorganized this time to
include white members.
few weeks after the formation of the Special Branch team, the Army commenced
with two pseudo teams of their own. These consisted of two Special Air Service
non-commissioned officers who had been attached to the Army Tracking Wing at
Lake Kariba and a number of black soldiers from the Rhodesia African Rifles.
Finally, former insurgents were added to the teams.
a third Army team was deployed with the result that operations could be
conducted in the Mtepatepa farming area and in Chiweshe Tribal Trust Land.
However, Army disillusionment soon reduced the number of teams to two. By this
stage effective control of all teams had passed to Special Branch.
first tangible success attributed to these teams occurred during August 1973
when a ZANLA insurgent was captured along the Ruya River. During the same
operation the concept of ‘frozen areas’ was developed to minimize the
chances of a clash between members of the Security Forces and a pseudo team. The
official definition of such areas read as follows:
31 August 1973, a pseudo team
effected the first ZANLA casualty to result from these operations.
this stage the senior Army and Special Branch members involved were convinced of
the use of pseudo operations. The death of André Rabie had, however, indicated
that pseudo operations had to be conducted within a formalized structure and
with other Security Force actions in an area.
the first troop of pseudo operators was ready in January 1974, they were
deployed from Bindura, where their Special Branch officer was located, into
Chiweshe, Madziwa and Bindura Tribal Trust Lands. By the end of February a
second troop became operational and a third during March. All three troops
operated in Shona—speaking areas against ZANLA. Each troop was divided into
three operating sections of nine to twelve men, a number of whom were former
insurgents. Depending on their number, however, sections increased in strength
to twenty and thirty
men strong in sate cases. Although the unit was mainly
control, control of intelligence, deployment and in some instances
training was in the hands of Special Branch. At no stage were even the military
intelligence organizations allowed to exert any influence over the unit.
however, remained a problem, for even at this early stage it was becoming common
knowledge in the operational area that the Security Forces were masquerading
as insurgents. (4)
the first half of 1974 the success of the Selous Scouts had reached such
proportions that Lieutenant-General Walls instructed the unit during May to
double its strength from three to six troops. By December this had been achieved
with an addition of about 50 former insurgents.
the existence of the unit, and to a lesser extent its type of operations had by
now become an open secret, official notification of the Selous Scouts was only
served during 1977. During April of that year the magazine To the Point