Rachel Simons

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Rachel (Ray) Simons (1914 – 12 September 2004) was a South African communist and trade unionist who helped draft the Women's Charter.

She was born in Latvia as Rachel Alexandrovich[1] and moved to Cape Town in 1929 to escape the persecution of Jews and communists. She joined the South African Communist Party immediately. In the 1930s she was active in the communist and trade union movements and was elected a member of the political bureau of the Party in 1938. She was generally known then by the name of Ray Alexander. In 1935 she was the secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union. She later worked for the Garment Workers Union, which paid her about £3 a month.

In 1941 she married Jack Simons, a lecturer at Cape Town University and a fellow communist. She and Jack lived in a house near Table Mountain where they offered hospitality and assistance to African trades union organisers. [2]

Ray Simons was instrumental in the formation of the South African Railways and Harbours Union and the Federation of South African Women of which she was the first national secretary. She was banned from trade union work in 1953 by the government and in 1965, she and her husband, Jack fled to Lusaka. They returned from exile in 1990. She died in Cape Town at the age of 91.

She was awarded the Isitwalandwe Medal in 2004 by the African National Congress.

In March 2011, the country of Sierra Leone issued a postage stamp in her honor, naming her as one of the Legendary Heroes of Africa.[3]


  1. ^ "Simons, Ray Alexander - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780195148909.001.0001/acref-9780195148909-e-977. Retrieved 30 October 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Kiloh, Margaret; Sibeko, Archie (2000). A Fighting Union. Randburg: Ravan Press. ISBN 0869755277.
  3. ^ "12 Jews honored on African stamps as Apartheid fighters". Retrieved 30 October 2017.

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