January 22, 2015

To purchase a copy of the DVD, Indian’s Can’t Fly, kindly contact the SABC at: Programme Sales, 011 714 5846  email:


Indians Can¹t Fly will screen for the first time on 1 February, at 19H30. The 48-minute television documentary tells the story of Ahmed Timol, a 29-year-old Roodepoort teacher and anti-apartheid activist who fell from the 10th Floor of the security police building in Johannesburg in 1971. The documentary is narrated by Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, author of, Timol: Quest for Justice, and directed by Enver Samuel. A police inquest concluded that Timol committed suicide while under interrogation, but questions remain whether he may have been pushed, or tortured to death and thrown from the window. It has been suggested that the roadblock at which Timol was captured was set up specifically to trap him – which could mean his murder was premeditated by police. Samuel recalls listening awe-struck to Timol’s mother’s testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996. “There was Mrs Hawa Timol, an elderly lady and ever-grieving mother, relating in her home language, Gujarati, the painful loss of her son. It was an extraordinarily emotional moment, even in the context of the general environment of emotion that characterised the TRC. “I have since followed Timol-related activities in the media, such as the naming of the Ahmed Timol Secondary School by President Mandela; Imtiaz’s book launch and the posthumous award of the Order of Luthuli in 2010. Finally, media coverage on the Secrecy Bill and access to Timol¹s security records in November 2011 triggered me to make contact with Imtiaz. After a number of years, we have produced a documentary on one of the unsung heroes of our struggle,” Samuel said. Cajee described the documentary as “an important milestone in preserving Timol¹s legacy”. It aimed to enlighten young South Africans on the role Ahmed Timol played the struggle for non-racialism. The film traces Timol’s upbringing in Breyten, Mpumalanga, and then Roodepoort. Interviews are conducted with his comrades, former teachers and students, Security Branch policemen and Advocate George Bizos, who represented the Timol family at the inquest in 1972. For Cajee, however, pertinent questions remain on what really happened to Ahmed Timol: “I have evidence that the police roadblock was not routine, but a setup. My uncle¹s underground activities were monitored by the Security Branch and he was under police surveillance,” he says. These, among other facts, will be unearthed in the publication of the Second Edition of Quest for Justice, due for publication in October 2016 on the 45th anniversary of Timol’s death.   Ends… This statement was issued by Oryx Media for the Timol family. Flyer



  1. Ashwyn says:

    Excellent production. Now the NPA should prosecute those who didn’t come forward and participate truthfully and remorsefully in the TRC process.

  2. Haroon Mahomed says:

    A well produced reminder of our painful past and a celebration of the ability to forgive and move on; it brings into sharp focus just how much forgiveness the 1994 accord involved. May the lessons in the documentary and the sacrifice made, be the platform for building a better country.

  3. Rafique Cajee says:

    well done Imtiaz Ahmed!!!
    Rafique and family

  4. An excellent documentary that does justice to portray the Ahmed Timol I knew My Teacher My Mentor My Hero
    A tribute that the producers managed to depict so succinctly Thank you

  5. Well done. A great tribute to a great man.

  6. Suraya says:

    Thank you to Imtiaz and the rest of the production team. We cannot move forward if we don’t know where we come from. We come from a history of resistance, courage and determination – all personified in Cde Ahmed Timol. The documenatary is an excellent resource for young children.

  7. Stephanie Kemp says:

    Thank you for the excellent documentary, Imtiaz Cajee. It was painful to see the memories that are still so real. A reminder of all those who were tortured and killed during the struggle to end apartheid. Beautifully done.

  8. Fatima G says:

    Great work that highlights how these apartheid forces got away with murder.

    It is amazing that those who killed Ahmed Timol and other freedom fighters continue with the lie and still live under the delusion that they were fighting some kind of just war against a kind of ‘terrorism’. That in their mind apartheid was some kind of ideal to be defended.

  9. Haneef says:

    Excellent documentary.
    A few very emotional moments.
    Glad I could watch it with my kids (whose grandfather was also picked up and jailed there the same week as Ahmed Timol)



  11. Sydney Mufamadi says:

    A great life staked to the cause of freedom was duly lodged in our collective memory.

  12. Congratulations on a an historic and good film to commemorate a hero of our struggle! The grief of a mother, father and family who search for answers, points to all the unfinished business in our history.
    I circulated the notice of the film to all my friends.

  13. Trishna Patel says:

    I found it very interesting as I did not know much about the in-depth story of Ahmed Timol.
    Really good. Thank you.

  14. Fatima Vawda says:

    The appearance of Ahmed Timol’s mum at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission was utterly painful to observe and will always be a reminder of the atrocities of apartheid and its engine of destruction.

  15. Muhammad Choonara says:

    The appearance of Khala Bibi at the TRC was one of the saddest moments, I remember as a teen missing school to watch it on TV. I salute her and someone said it brilliantly that after Ahmed was killed she lost her happiness totally. She was a wonderful woman, May Allah grant her Jannah. Well done Imtiaz for keeping the spirit of Ahmed alive.

  16. Piers Pigou says:

    Congratulations on a moving tribute to Ahmed Timol.
    Alas, the representation that the TRC did what it could to addrss Hawa Timol’s pleas is simply untrue. I was the investigator and whilst I located the security policeman Rodrigues who was with Timol when he was alleged to have jumped, no effort was made to subpoena him or others involved in his interrogation and the investigation. This was true of many cases, including other high profile matters, and the case of every death in custody at John Vorster Square.
    We need to be honest about what was and what was not achieved at the Commission. I’m afraid ‘we’ failed the Timol family in this regard and that needs to be very clear. Much could still be done, even if it is not with a view to prosecution.
    Please do have a look at google’s representation of the South African History Archive’s work on detention without trial at John Vorster Square.

  17. Shamima Vawda says:

    Thank you for keeping the flame of social justice alive. The timing of the documentary on Ahmed Timol is auspicious as we have new struggles to overcome. Let us learn from Ahmed Timol’s heroism to continue to fight against social injustice. Aluta Continua!

  18. Ahmed Jogee says:

    Hi Imtiaz, great documentary. There should be a follow up on Timol’s life and family.
    We all know that Timol was thrown of JV Square. We hope that our youth can be inspired by Timol’s work and involvement with society. Timol also played a Sporting role with Dynamos FC that need to be highlighted immensely more so about Fietas/STFU & Natalspruit grounds
    where non -racial sport was played. My heart goes out to Timol’s family, more so his mum who was a broken lady at the time of his untimely death & going to the TRC and not getting full closure. The truth shall always prevail and the good will always rise and be noted. You can never put a good person down. VIVA Non Racialism, Viva Federation Soccer League

  19. johann@paia says:

    Well done Imtiaz and Enver , as an informative doccie , it served its purpose . So many unanswered Intelligence related questions remaining , can not believe that old SB officers still believe as per your doccie , that the lies still makes sense . It is time to dug for the truth , get those unwilling and ill trained PAIA structures in Govt to start do what they are paid to do . I know , I was their !!! WHY AND WHAT DO WE WANT TO KEEP UNDER COVERS ???

  20. Kreneshan says:

    Thank you for the informative story.

  21. The securiity police claimed that Ahmed Timol had jumped out of the window. They were lying. They had, in fact, thrown him out of the window, after torturing him badly. When they had me tortured via the so-called “Helicopter Treatment”, they said to me : “jou bliksem se koelie, ons sal jou nou uit die venster uitgooi”. They were ruthless! Timol was sacrificed in his fight for democracy. My both hands werre totally immobilised, and took almost six months to recover – but were not that good!

  22. Roxanna Laher says:

    He cared more for the outcome of the struggle than the actual time…so he would never have jumped.
    He did NOT jump_ he was pushed. With all the evident injuries on his body that were older than the fall, he could not have jumped as he would have been stopped by the ruthless people that knew he was the one with full energy and brains to complete a democratic South Africa.
    He loved life far too much to be broken by them….they had to break him by throwing him down and extracting that life out of him by force……. But they can never break his footprints and his marks that he left on all that had the absolute privilege of being in his company.
    We walked to the cemetery and walked back after the burial….throngs of school children from all over Gauteng and adults from all walks of life. His parents knew that he will never be forgotten . And in Allah’s hands we returned a man that had sacrificed himself for our sake. They, in turn, were never the same again.
    We pray for his soul to be in a heaven where only angels brush by his ever handsome face. A face and a personality that imprinted many a mind as he mentored the youth through hours of mentorship , sharing literature and stories . He earned respect based on his deeds from hometown to far abroad.

    Thank you, Imtiaaz for keeping his memory so alive ….watching the documentary was like the event happened yesterday….tears with filled memories of an individual that shared all his knowledge and cared about the personal development of all in race and gender.

  23. Aslam Khota says:

    Imtiaz must be lauded for his relentless pursuit for justice.
    This documentary captures the spirit of Ahmed Timol and others as they fought injustice. Imtiaz’ spirit of love, affection and seeking the truth was borne from watching and sharing the many years pain of his grand-parents, setting him on this course to bring the perpatrators to book……

    There will be no justice
    but there was victory in the end
    thanks to Ahmed and thousands of others
    who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    CONGRATULATIONS on a stirring documentary.

  24. Justin says:

    I have over the years tried to follow the story of Ahmed Timol and his tragic death in 1971.

    I first became aware of Ahmed in the mid 1990’s when I read a story about him in the Star newspaper. It was around this time that the Truth Commission was in progress.

    Since I was born in 1971 (The year Ahmed died) and grew up as a white privileged South African I never really understood or was made aware of some of the atrocities that were happening over the years here in South Africa by the oppressive Apartheid regime. Although I did see more than most when living outside of SA in England later in my life.

    I know that we are now past the forty year mark since Ahmed lost his life and I wanted to ask.

    Would you know if one of the former policeman who testified originally and was apparently in the room, a Joao A Rodrigues is still around?

    Has he ever been willing to give an interview or at least answer more questions regarding Ahmed supposed fall from the 10th floor of the John Vorster square building?

    I am rather disappointed that not one of these former policeman had the decency to come forward and be willing to tell the truth. I mean isn’t a Truth commission set up to give people Amnesty from prosecution even if they do admit to a past wrong doing during a previous government regimes time in power?

    I am hopeing that the former Seargent Rodrigues might still be alive today. Has anyone perhaps tried to contact him. Or subpoena him to come forward.

    If their side of the story is true. And assuming Ahmed was so badly beaten & tortured that he was willing to run for the window to jump out and end his own life to avoid more interrogation and torture, could no one have come to the Truth commission and confirmed this and given his Mom and family closure?

    Of course I don’t believe that was the case. Would there be any other records that might give a better indication of what might have happened all those years ago?

    I was pleased to watch the Documentary screened on SABC3 this past Sunday evening & pleased to know that there is a school now named after Ahmed who I know was truly a great man.

    Thank you for setting up this web site in his honour. I will regularly visit & keep in touch here.

  25. Helena F says:

    The documentary is a reminder of what South Africans experienced under Apartheid. It is so easily forgotten.
    What is sad and disturbing is how some of our “comrades” are still working closely with the same perpetrators to weaken the gains of our struggle.

    Thank you for keeping the memory of our fallen heroes alive – those that were killed, tortured, disappeared, displaced, exiled, incarcerated, etc.

    Long live our democracy!

  26. Piers Pigou says:

    Alas experience with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) shows those tasked with processing access to information requests are eminently unqualified to make appropriate decisions. The most egregious violators are the Presidency and the Department of Justice (which has responsibility for mainstreaming transparency culture in government). But the cultures of secrecy and denial persist and at great cost to the taxpayer. Noone is held accountable for the millions spend on legal defences that have no substantive basis.
    Last month after almost a decade of effort, Justice released 15000 pages of in camera transcripts from the TRC. Many were already in the public domain but for years ridiculous excuses were proffered to justify refusals. we also don’t know what’s been redacted and i cant say i’m particularly optimistic. fortunately, many of these transcripts have already found their way into the public domain so it will be possible to check just how professional the redactors have been .. or not!
    But dont expect state archives to have much material relating to the abuses of th epast. Even significant materials located by the TRC’s own investigations have subsequently gone missing.
    Slowly, and one hope surely, the South African public will wake up to this travesty and maybe, just maybe, start making a noise about this!!

  27. Mohammad T says:

    The events 44 years ago still evokes painful memories but also gave hope that the process by ANC/SACP alliance to re-build the underground structure in difficult enemy conditions and to organise our people in struggle against the oppressive and brutal aparthied regime was gradually succeeding.

    Despite the country wide arrest, fear, intimidation and harrasment by the security police, the small Roodepoort Indian community rallied around and supported the Timol and Essop family and the families of other residents who were also detained.

    The siginificance of Ahmed’s and Salim Essop’s arrest, torture and subsequent death in detention of Ahmed Timol, re-ignited the spark of resistance that was simmering all over the country.

    The brutal death of Ahmed Timol and his underground political work was indeed a political awakening and conscientising of many students in the townships, in Indian Group Areas and at Black and White Universituies, and people from all walks of life. Actvists who were political conscientised from the different sections of our society during that period of the 1970’s, played a major role in the unfolding struggle that eventually toppled the Aparthied State

    The struggle against the oppressive and brutal regime, needed brave men and women to take up the spear and engage in all forms of struggle to fight the mighty and arrogant apartheid state. Ahmed Timol with countless other patriots, was one of the brave warrior who took up the fight and made the supreme sacrifice, his precious life.

    Imtiaz’s dedication to keep alive the name and legacy of his uncle, Ahmed Timol, is highly commended.

    Enver, have successfully potrait the person of Ahmed Timol, the patriot and gentle revolutionary who gave his life for freedom.

    Mohammad T
    Victory Park

    10 February 2015

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