Centurion - AfriForum has announced that its head of private prosecutions, and well-known advocate, Gerrie Nel will be assisting the family of Reshall Jimmy in a formal inquest that’s expected to be held before a High Court Judge in February 2019.
Reshall burned to death in his Ford Kuga while on holiday in Wilderness in December 2015.
The family then hired forensic experts who reportedly ascertained that the fire started with the car’s electronic wiring system behind the dashboard. Ford however denied this and has to date not claimed any form of responsibility for the fire.
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit hopes to obtain a clear and unambiguous response from Ford on the status of the report that was conducted by the company’s own fire investigator Anthony Young.
“The criminal justice system of South Africa failed the victim in this case,” said Nel
“The family has been waiting for almost three years for the case to be investigated and AfriForum wrote letters imploring the Magistrate’s Court in George to hold a formal inquest.”
According to AfriForum, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided not to prosecute Ford and denied the family a nolle prosequi (will no longer prosecute) certificate because they were awaiting the result of the inquest.
Nel said he felt it was unacceptable that corporate bullies such as Ford regarded themselves as above the law: “We were astonished that Ford seized all communication with the victims and, during discussion with the family, made statements like ‘we have deep pockets’.”
However, earlier this year Ford insisted that it had been in contact with the Jimmy family on several occasions.
When asked about such instances by The Post, it added: “Given the sensitive and unique circumstances of the case relating to the death of Reshall Jimmy, and the possibility of ongoing legal proceedings, we have nothing further to add on this matter at this time.”
In January 2017, Ford was forced to recall around 4556 Kuga 1.6-litre EcoBoost models that were built between December 2012 and February 2014, following around 40 reported engine fires. Ford reportedly also compensated owners that had been affected by the fires, and implemented a six-year/200 000km warranty for all Kuga models in an attempt to restore confidence in the brand.
However, earlier this year Reshall’s sister Renisha said she was appalled to discover that Ford had offered support and compensation to all other Kuga fire complainants except for her family.
AfriForum claims that since its involvement, Ford has appointed legal representatives to “continue the dialogue” but the civil rights organisation claims to have experienced “an absence of any real attempt to communicate.”