Time hasn't healed the pain for family of deadly Ford Kuga fire victim

22 December 2016 - 18:27 By Wendy Knowler

Kaveen Jimmy still has the voicemail message his brother Reshall left on his cellphone about 15 minutes before he burnt to death in his Ford Kuga on the night of December 4 last year.

Victim Reshall Jimmy
Victim Reshall Jimmy
Image: Courtesy of his brother Kaveen Jimmy

The message is unclear. “When I listened to it‚ I couldn’t make out what he was saying.”

When he couldn’t reach Reshall‚ then 33‚ on his phone in the days that followed‚ Kaveen‚ six years his senior‚ assumed he was enjoying his paragliding holiday in George and not monitoring his phone.

Reshall had been a John Doe for four days when his brother got a call from Wesbank‚ asking if he knew him‚ and urging him to contact a police investigating officer in George.

“Reshall’s body was so badly charred‚ I wasn’t allowed to see it. The only skin left on his body was the soles of his feet‚ thanks to the shoes he was wearing.”

What he did see - the remains of the Kuga - was bad enough.

“The airbags burst‚ the windows imploded‚ the rear tyres and fuel tank exploded.

“Reshall was a big man‚ healthy and fit - but he died with his seatbelt still on - it must have happened in seconds.” He identified the charred remains of his brother’s clothing‚ and parts of the car’s logbook confirmed that the car was his.

When DNA testing confirmed his brother’s identity‚ his body was released to the family and they drove with it to Johannesburg in a refrigerated food truck.

Kaveen and his sister Renisha started the Facebook page Ford Vehicles Burning three months ago‚ in a bid to get justice for their brother and prevent further deaths.

In a November 4 email to Ford SA CEO Jeff Nemeth‚ Kaveen wrote: “ I cannot find the words to express the loss of my brother and the pain my family and I are going through each day of our lives.

“Time is certainly not helping us heal in anyway especially knowing that Ford Motor Company refuses to acknowledge the cause of the fire which led to his death.”

Jimmy and forensic investigator David Klatzow have since met Nemeth‚ Ford SA’s attorney‚ and the company’s general counsel Shibishi Maruatano in Johannesburg.

Jimmy’s Kuga was a 2004 1.6-litre model.

On Thursday‚ Ford SA revealed for the first time that the risk of its Kuga SUVs catching fire was confined to a particular model - the 1.6-litre EcoBoost - “possibly” as a result of engine overheating.

An estimated 6300 of these Kugas were sold between December 15 2012 and October 20‚ 2014 and Ford has urged the owners to take the vehicles to a Ford dealership as soon as possible to have the vehicle’s coolant system checked out.

But the manufacturer insists that the fire in Jimmy’s Kuga began in the rear.

* Klatzow has urged Kuga owners who have experienced any electrical faults with their vehicle to email him in order to help with his investigation. (david.klatzow@mweb.co.za).

- TMG Digital/ConsumerLIVE