RIP Sarah Carneson

  • Posted: Nov 3, 2015

We wish to extend our condolences to the Carneson family following the passing of anti-apartheid activist, Sarah Carneson on Friday, 30 October.

An exhibition about the Carnesons’ story entitled, ‘Red in the Rainbow’ is currently on display at the Iziko Slave Lodge. The exhibition is based on the book by Lynn Carneson entitled, ‘Red in the Rainbow: The Life and Times of Fred and Sarah Carneson’.

Sarah Carneson (née Rubin) was born in 1916. Her parents were founding members of the South African Communist Party (SACP). In 1931, at age 15, she joined the Young Communist League and became a member of the SACP in 1934. She taught workers to read and write at the SACP’s night school.

In 1938, Carneson began working for the National Union of Distributive Workers and also became the secretary of the Tobacco Workers’ Union; however, in 1954 she was banned from holding office in any union and was forced to go underground six years later. In 1967 she was imprisoned for breaching her banning order, and went into exile in London after her release.

She married her late husband, Fred Carneson (also a staunch member of the SACP) in 1943 and they had three children; Lynn, John and Ruth. The couple returned to South Africa in 1991 and settled in Cape Town.


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