Sunday Documentary Indians Cant Fly

Documentary airing Sunday at 19:30 on SABC3


"Indians Can't Fly" is a 48 minute documentary celebrating the life of Ahmed Timol, the
anti-apartheid activist who died on 27 October 1971 after being thrown from the 10th
floor of John Vorster square by the security police.

He was a great Africanist He was a Muslim but never sectarian He was a communist He was a comrade

President Thabo Mbeki


The notorious security police jokingly coined the term 'Indians Can't Fly' when Ahmed Timol supposedly jumped to his death from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square Police Station on the 27th of October 1971. The 29-year-old Indian schoolteacher was about to become one of the most 'celebrated' official murder victims of apartheid in South Africa as his death reverberated around the country and the world.

It was, of course, that sort of time. 1971. It would be 20 years before Nelson Mandela was released from prison. John Vorster was prime minister. The National Party had been in power for 23 years, the Republic of South Africa in existence for 10. People were jailed under the Immorality Act. The ANC had been banned in 1961, and the SACP long before. Though 90-day and later 180-day detention had been routine for nearly 10 years, the Terrorism Act - which provided in Section Six for indefinite detention without trial - had been passed by Parliament four years earlier. These were the darkest days of Apartheid. Twenty-two people had already died in the custody of security police. In not one of these deaths had anything untoward been discovered by the authorities.

Even so, the death of Ahmed Timol marked a turning point in the struggle against apartheid. It was met with angry and sustained protest around the country. Two years later, the government still feared the public mood to the extent that it imposed a 14-day ban on public meetings in Johannesburg to bracket the date of Ahmed Timol's death. In 1972, the year after Timol died, students, first at the University of Cape Town, then on


campuses around the country, defied and were beaten up by the police. Five years later, Soweto erupted like a volcano...

In the police version, it was around 4pm at John Vorster Square on Wednesday October 27, 1971 that 29-year-old Roodepoort Indian High schoolteacher Ahmed Timol took his own life by leaping out of a window in office number 1026, where he was being interrogated by security policemen in connection with furthering the aims of the banned South African Communist Party.

The man who became corpse number 3991/71 became a cause celebre, his death became an important milestone in the history of the liberation struggle. The apartheid regime believed it had crushed all opposition to the state, but activists like Timol kept up the struggle, ultimately his death served as an inspiration to many other activists to continue to fight for the democracy we enjoy in South Africa today.

The Documentary has been screened multiple times on SABC 3, was selected for the Durban International Film Festival 2015 and Toronto South Africa Film Festival 2015.  In 2016, the documentary was nominated for three SAFTA awards in the category Short Documentary: Best Director, Best Editor, Best Documentary, winning Best Director and Best Documentary.



Director / Producer:        Enver Samuel

DOP:                                      Denford Dzingire

Soundman:                         Grant Bauman

Script Development:      Teboho Pietersen

Editor:                                   Nikki Comninos

Final Mix:                             Final Fade

Music composer:             Brendan Jury




TITLE:                                    INDIANS CAN’T FLY – AHMED TIMOL



LENGTH:                              48 minutes

FORMAT:                             BETACAM


                                                                GEORGE BIZOS

                                                                RONNIE KASRILS

                                                                TOKYO SEXWALE

                                                                AZIZ PAHAD

                                                                ESSOP PAHAD

                                                                PROF. SATHS COOPER

                                                                MOHAMED TIMOL (BROTHER OF AHMED TIMOL)

                                                                JOJO SALOOJEE (AHMED TIMOL’S BEST FRIEND)







Description: D:\Blackberry photos 092.jpg


Dr Essop Pahad being interviewed



Description: D:\Ahmed Timol Photo2.JPG  Ahmed Timol






4.  The awards it received



South African Film & Television Awards 2016 – Best Documentary Short and Best Director Short


5.    Film Festivals


Durban International Film Festival, 2016


Toronto South African Film Festival, 2016


13th Cinemas de Afrique, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2018

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