Born in 1911 in Cape Town, he earned an LL.B degree from the University of Cape Town in 1932. He was a lawyer, a leader in the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), and a Native representative in Parliament.
After joining the CPSA in 1930, he organized several Coloured trade unions and in 1935 was an organizer of the National Liberation League. In 1938 he was elected to the central executive committee of the CPSA, a position he held almost continuously until the party’s dissolution in 1950.
Popular amongst Africans, he defended many as clients in the course of his legal career. A member of the Cape Town City Council from 1943 to 1952, he was elected to Parliament by the Africans of the Cape western district in 1949 but was expelled three years later on the grounds that was a Communist.
In 1954 he visited Russia. Prohibited in 1954 from attending gatherings, he was subsequently convicted of violating his ban, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. He left South Africa illegally in 1960.