Ian David Kitson was born the 25 August 1919, in Cape Town. He joined the Communist Party in 1940 when it was still a legal organization. After serving as a sapper in World War Two, he studied engineering at the University of Natal then and spent eight years in Britain. Later he studied politics and economics at Ruskin College. Two of these years were spent as a research fellow at Ruskin College, Oxford where he also became a member of the Draughtsman’s and Allied Technician’s Association. He returned to South Africa in 1959. In 1953 he was a member of the South Africa delegation to Youth and Student Festival in Bucharest, Romania. Kitson was drawn into underground activity and became an early member of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
In October 1964 Kitson was charged with sabotage. Furthering the aims of communism and joining the High Command of MK in the Rand Criminal Court. He was convicted in December 1964 to 29 years’ imprisonment at the Pretoria Local Prison. After his release in 1984, Kitson returned to Britain and remarried his wife, Norma whom he had divorced by mutual consent on going to prison. During his imprisonment, she had helped form a militant faction within the British Anti-Apartheid Movement called the "City Group" that agitated for prisoners rights by mounting round-the-clock pickets outside the South Africa embassy in London.