SIKI MGABADELI: The National Consumer Commission has instituted an investigation into the activities of the Ford Motor Company Southern Africa and its dealerships for alleged prohibited conduct. You’ll remember of course that recently the Ford Kuga 1.6 EcoBoost saw a vehicle recall. That’s one of the issues that we understand is being investigated.
But let’s chat to the National Consumer Commissioner, Ebrahim Mohamed. Ebrahim, thanks so much for your time this evening. Let’s start with what’s led to this investigation.
EBRAHIM MOHAMED: Well, firstly thank you very much for having me on your show, and good evening to your listeners. What started the investigation? Firstly, the number of complaints that the Commission has seen subsequent to the Kuga debacle was phenomenal. We have received in excess of 130 complaints just before and since recall or notification.
The issues raised in these complaints are not the same. There are different issues that are being raised over and above problems experienced by consumers with regard to the actual Kuga fires, some of which vehicles probably burnt down prior to the recall, much earlier, and the type of redress they require – that kind of thing.
There were many, many other complaints and, because we have now launched a formal investigation, I’m unfortunately not able to speak to all the allegations because Ford needs to be given the opportunity in terms of the audi alteram partem – hear the other side – rule. They need to be given an opportunity to respond adequately to the allegations. At a later stage, when the report is done and so on, there will be much more information available to the public and to the media.
There have been allegations of prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct means any act or omission that is inconsistent or that contravenes the provisions of the Consumer Protect Act, and so on.
SIKI MGABADELI: Okay. And what sort of powers do you have as the NCC to investigate? How in-depth are you able to go?
EBRAHIM MOHAMED: We’ve got quite extensive powers of investigation. So we can investigate anything. We can order a forensic investigation. …
But we are not an adjudicator body, so we don’t decide on whether or not there has been prohibited conduct. We can only recommend to the tribunal – there is a National Consumer Tribunal – which would decide eventually whether there has been prohibited conduct, whether they fine prohibited conduct, and then impose whatever penalty or fine that they so wish to impose in terms of their powers.
SIKI MGABADELI: We’ll leave it there. Thanks for your time. Ebrahim Mohamed is the National Consumer Commissioner.