Jimmy’s sister Ranisha Jimmy said yesterday her mother was inconsolable after Jeff Nemeth, chief executive of Ford SA, told the family during a meeting, that new evidence suggested Reshall had committed suicide or had been murdered. He said a police officer who was at the scene said he saw a bullet hole in Reshall’s skull.
Reshall died on December 4, 2015, after the Ford Kuga he was driving burst into flames. “My mom kept asking why they were saying Reshall committed suicide. I haven’t seen my mom cry like that, not even at Rashell’s funeral,” Ranisha said.
She and Nemeth communicated for two months, with him saying he had a mandate from the international head office to settle the matter, only to turn around and make claims that Reshall did not die because of any fault with the car.
“The chief postmortem findings made by me were, the body is severely charred, no internal or discernible external injuries with no discernable evidence of a shooting. The blood is cherry red in colour and the trachea (wind pipe) is lined by a large amount of soot. Cause of death is therefore noted as severe charring,” said Rod Montano as he read the coroner’s report.
Montano, the Jimmy family’s attorney, said the coroner had found no evidence of a bullet wound in the skull. This was confirmed by Dr David Klatzow, a forensic specialist the family hired to assist.
“We can take it with absolute certainty that there is no bullet hole in the skull,” Klatzow said. He said during a postmortem one would pull back the skin around the head to reveal the skull to examine it, and the coroner found that there was no bullet wound in Reshall's skull.
The Jimmy family and their lawyer spoke to the media at a briefing at the National Press Club in Pretoria yesterday. They said Ford SA had offered them another vehicle of their choice within the brand up to R1 million, which they rejected.
“I'd want Ford to take responsibility and apologise for the suicide and murder allegations. Taking responsibility for me is key,” the sister said.
Minesh Bhagaloo, product communications manager for Ford SA, said the company recognised how devastating Reshall's loss had been to the family. “Given the sensitive circumstances, and possible legal proceedings, we have nothing further to add."
Ford has been embroiled in a public relations nightmare since Reshall’s death in the vehicle, and other reports of Kugas catching fire. In January, Ford SA recalled the 1.6-litre Ford Kuga model – 4556 Kugas, built between December 2012 and February 2014, were recalled.