A Durban man says he is lucky to be alive after he managed to escape unhurt when his Ford Kuga burst into flames while he was driving at the weekend.
The incident comes after the Sunday Tribune reported on Sunday that Ford could be facing a class action lawsuit from more than 20 Ford Kuga owners relating to similar problems with their vehicles.
Nivesh Sewpersadh, 39, said he had been driving in Westville North on Saturday when the 2014 model Ford Kuga caught alight.
Sewpersadh said he was left “very traumatised”, especially after he was assured by technicians just three days before the incident that the vehicle “was safe to drive”.
Police confirmed the incident on Sunday but said a case had not been opened.
Renisha and Kaveen Jimmy, who want to bring a class-action lawsuit against Ford, said on Sunday that 27 people had come forward with similar incidents.
Kaveen Jimmy said that 21 drivers had confirmed that they want to join the class-action suit, which would probably be filed in Gauteng.
Their brother, Reshall, died after being trapped in a Ford Kuga which caught alight in December last year.
Vehicle was safe, dealer assured
Sewpersadh said he was forced to take his vehicle, which was bought by his employer at a Ford dealership in Stanger, to be looked at twice in the space of a week because the engine light was on.
He said he was assured that the vehicle was safe to drive.
However, on Saturday morning, while taking in the vehicle in for the third time, the car caught alight.
“I noticed smoke and pulled off to the centre island. I opened the door and had one leg out before the car even came to a stop,” he said.
“I took the service books, my cellphone, and my keys and ran across the road. Then I saw it was in flames.”
Sewpersadh said the cause could not be overheating since he had been driving for only about 3km when the incident happened.
“I have two little girls, they could have been in the car. Would I have reacted quickly enough to open the doors for them?”
He said that the flames caused the central locking to “freeze up”, which means he could have easily been trapped in the vehicle.
Sewpersadh said it came as a surprise that so many people had had the same problem.
“(Saturday) was the first I’d heard of the problem,” he said.
He said he was considering joining the class-action suit.
DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango, who saw the incident unfold and called the fire department, posted about the incident on Facebook.
He said that judging from the comments on his Facebook post, there were other people who had been involved in similar incidents.
While Ford South Africa did not respond to e-mailed questions on Sunday, Ford Europe’s director for news operations, John Gardiner, told the media earlier this month that they were aware of alleged fire incidents on Kugas being shared on social media.
“(We) are prepared to investigate vehicles reported to Ford.
“If our investigation finds that there is a safety defect, we will move quickly.”
Kaveen said his brother had also been assured by Ford that the car was in good condition days before his death.
He said the family were waiting for the inquest into Reshall’s death to be finalised before taking the matter to court.