Ford fight continues as Kuga fire inquest plays out in Cape Town court

26 March 2019 - 18:37 By ARON HYMAN
Reshall Jimmy died in December 2015 when his Ford Kuga burst into flames.
Reshall Jimmy died in December 2015 when his Ford Kuga burst into flames.
Image: Courtesy of his brother Kaveen Jimmy

The fight between motoring giant Ford and the family of Reshall Jimmy, who died in December 2015 when his Ford Kuga burst into flames, continued in the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday.

Afriforum's Gerrie Nel slogged it out with a formidable team of lawyers representing Ford during an inquiry into Jimmy's death. 

On Tuesday, he continued with his cross-examination of Andrew Roberts, one of the first people to arrive at the scene on a back road in Wilderness, where Jimmy's luxury SUV was burning on the side of the road.

The Jimmy family requested an inquiry into his death after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) initially refused to prosecute based on a lack of evidence. 

Ford's defence team has introduced a version of events to attempt to prove that Jimmy died as a result of foul play and not as a result of a technical fault in its vehicles. 

Since Jimmy's death, more than 80 Ford Kugas have spontaneously caught fire, with Ford admitting a fault in their cooling system was responsible. 

Even after more than 4,500 of the vehicles were recalled in 2017 to make safety fixes to the vehicles, several have caught fire.

Roberts told High Court Judge Robert Henney that on May 18 2017 he made a separate statement than the one he made to the police two years earlier after Ford South Africa CEO Jeff Nemeth called him and asked him to include two aspects in his testimony. 

Roberts made a new statement in Nemeth's company, where he gave details that could introduce the possibility that Jimmy was murdered.

In his second statement he said that about 800 metres before the scene of the fire he saw a car making a u-turn in the road and, secondly, that a policeman who attended the scene after the flames were extinguished commented to bystanders that the occupant of the vehicle had a hole in his head.

Nel scrutinised Roberts, insisting that he was working with Ford, an accusation which Roberts strongly denied. 

Roberts said that he mentioned the details to the investigating officer, but that the investigating officer left them out of his statement, which he signed. 

The inquiry continues.