Ford fans the flames of outrage

09 December 2016 - 09:45 By GRAEME HOSKEN

The only way the family of 33-year-old Reshall Jimmy could identify his body after he died trapped inside his burning 2014 Ford Kuga SUV was through a DNA sample from his brother.

The New Ford Kuga ST-Line
The New Ford Kuga ST-Line
Image: ©The Ford Motor Company

According to the postmortem report, his body was so severely charred his face was unrecognisable.

Jimmy burnt to death while on holiday at the Wilderness in Western Cape in December 2015, after an electrical fault behind the dashboard set his car alight.

It has been a year since his death, but Ford felt the need to request another inspection - the third - of the vehicle, which was carried out on Monday. The first inspection was done in December 2015 and the second in January.

Two forensic reports - one by the police and the other by an independent forensic inspector - point to an electrical fault as the fire's cause.

Despite the latest inspection, Jimmy's family members still do not know if they will get the closure they desperately seek.

The Jimmy family lawyer Rod Montano said Ford would not commit itself to handing over the latest forensic report. It is needed for the inquest into Jimmy's death to proceed.

Ford has failed to answer questions from The Times about why it wanted another inspection a year after Jimmy's death, saying only that it is assisting authorities with an investigation.

"When I inquired about Ford's report findings and told Ford's lawyer that the report would be used to assist police in the inquest, I was informed that, dependent on [their] investigation outcome, a decision would be taken as to whether they would supply it to the police or not. That is exceptionally unusual," said Jimmy's brother Kaveen.

"We just want to know what happened. We want those who are responsible for this to be held to account. We need this so future deaths and injuries are stopped."

This year 17 Kuga 2014 models have burst into flames in South Africa, yet the Kuga has not been recalled.

Ford executives are to appear before the National Consumer Commission on Monday to answer to allegations made by motorists whose cars have caught fire.

Ford, in earlier responses to The Times, said: "We take the safety of our customers very seriously. When the data indicate a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers."