Winner of South Africa’s top literary prize, the Alan Paton Award, The UnlikelySecret Agent tells the thrilling true story of one woman’s struggle against theapartheid system. It is 1963. South Africa is in crisis and the white state isunder siege. One August 19th, the dreaded Security Police descendedon Griggs bookstore in downtown Durban and arrest Eleanor, the white daughterof the manager. They threaten to “break her or hang her” if she does not leadthem to her lover, “Red” Ronnie Kasrils, who is wanted on suspicion ofinvolvement in recent acts of sabotage, including the toppling of electricitypylons and explosions at a Security Police office in Durban.
But Eleanor has her own secret to conceal: she is, like Ronnie, aclandestine agent for the underground ANC and must protect her handlers andRonnie at all costs. Astutely, she convinces the police that she is on theverge of a nervous breakdown and, still a prisoner, is relocated to a mentalhospital in Pietermaritzburg for assessment. It is here that she plots herescape.
This remarkable story of a young woman’s courage and daring at a timeof increasing repression in apartheid South Africa is told here for the firsttime with great verve and élan by Eleanor’s husband, Ronnie Kasrils, whoeventually became South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence Services in 2004.