Gerrie Nel tackles Ford on Kuga death

AfriForum takes on ‘corporate bullies’.

Fearless prosecutor advocate Gerrie Nel announced in Centurion on Wednesday that he will be supporting the family of the late Reshall Jimmy who burnt to death in his Ford Kuga almost three years ago.

This will form part of a larger strategy of building a private prosecutions unit for civil rights group AfriForum that will, among other things, defend citizens against corporate bullies, Nel said.

Around and after Jimmy’s death in the fire, a large number of Ford Kuga sport utility vehicles (SUVs) seemingly spontaneously caught fire. According to Reshall’s sister, Renisha Jimmy, there could be more than 60 cases in South Africa. Similar events occurred in other countries where the Ford Kuga was sold.

Under pressure from the National Consumer Commission (NCC), Ford in January last year announced a phased recall to make certain modifications to the vehicles to prevent further fires.

The NCC has been investigating the matter but has not given any public feedback on the status of its investigation.

At the briefing on Wednesday, newlyweds Wynand and Carla Ambrosius from Standerton related how their Ford Kuga caught fire in June this year while parked in their garage, despite having gone through the recall process. Wynand barely escaped with his life, but the couple lost their Kuga and another vehicle, and a large portion of their house was destroyed.

According to Nel the criminal justice system has failed the Jimmy family.

He said that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) refused to prosecute Ford and won’t give the family a nolle prosequi (‘will no longer prosecute’) certificate, which is a prerequisite for a private prosecution, as it is waiting for the results of the inquest.

AfriForum assisted the family in the process that led to the announcement that the inquest will be held in the High Court in Cape Town on February 4 next year. Nel will also represent the family in the pre-trial conference that will take place this week.

Nel said it is unacceptable that “international corporate bullies like Ford regard themselves as above the law”.


“We were astonished that Ford ceased all communication with the victims and, during discussions with the family, made statements like we have deep pockets,” Nel said.

He said that Neale Hill, the new MD of Ford South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa (from July 1, 2018), and the group’s lawyers, have admitted to making the statement to the Jimmy family. When Nel confronted them about it, they wanted to explain the context. “Bullies always want to rationalise their conduct,” he said.

He described how his meetings with Ford and its lawyers initially seemed productive, but subsequently they sent him letters that contradicted that impression. They also accused him of threatening them.

Nel said he did make it clear that AfriForum would hold a media briefing and leave the decision about Ford’s conduct to “the court of public opinion”.

He asked why Ford has failed to provide the family and the authorities with two reports from different experts who investigated the fire that killed Jimmy.

“We believe that this information will support the family’s version of the events surrounding the fire, among others, that the fire was caused by a mechanical fault,” he said.

Nel said the Ambrosius couple was treated in the same way as the Jimmys. Ford removed the evidence, allegedly to have it analysed and the same investigator was involved. As in the Jimmy case the findings were “inconclusive”.

‘Unacceptable’ settlement offers

He said there were similarities between the two events, and that in both cases Ford made settlement offers that were unacceptable to the victims.

He said that if Ford knew there was a problem with the Kuga before it launched the vehicle in South Africa and went ahead with the launch anyway, there would be an opportunity to prosecute the company criminally. If the NPA decides against prosecution following the findings of the inquest, AfriForum will consider a private prosecution on behalf of the Jimmy family.

Renisha Jimmy said that all the family wants is for Ford to take responsibility and admit that a defect in its vehicles caused the fires. She said the family doesn’t want anybody else to die and wants Reshall’s name cleared of allegations that he was murdered or committed suicide.

She said the family hopes to find the closure about Reshall’s death that has so far eluded them, since the past three years have been one long fight to get answers.

The Jimmy family will file papers in a civil action related to Reshall’s death in December.

Moneyweb asked Ford SA to comment on Nel’s characterisation of the group as a corporate bully, and the allegation that the Ambrosius couple’s Kuga caught fire despite having undergone the recall modifications.

Ford product communication manager Minesh Bhagaloo responded as follows: “Our deepest sympathies continue to be with the Jimmy family. We remain cooperative with the authorities to help all parties reach a resolution, including the start of a formal inquest to gain closure on the many unanswered questions surrounding this case.

“Customers can be assured that our commitment remains on delivering safe vehicles.”



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About time that Ford really faced the music and with Gerrie on the case they now claim that they feel intimidated. Shame. This will be very interesting, especially in light of the about turn at Momentum after the huge public outcry earlier this week. So Ford, let’s see just how deep your pockets are!

I’m amazed that any Ford’s were sold after this saga began and anyone contemplating buying a Ford should immediately change tack and make a point of telling Ford that they have done so. As long as they are selling, they will think that they can continue to do as they like.

Many lessons to be be learnt from this important article. One lesson for me as an English speaker is not to accept without question the criticism of Afriforum by commentators such as Max du Preez, Melanie Verwoerd and Pieter duToit, all journalists of credibility, yet who condemn Afriforum totally.

My take is that Afriforum has realized that there is space amongst the activist community for protecting the rights of ALL minority groups, not only white Afrikaners. I applaud Afriforum.

Max du Preez a journalist of credibility? Since when?

You forgot to mention Melanie Verwoerd.

Yet another example of making “America great again!” What’s a few deaths in the process Mr Trump! Ford should be ashamed of themselves as should the American people be of their President and his “ win at all costs mentality’s” In my opinion

The way I see transactions in buying capital items is as follows: The money that I paid to the dealer in good faith to complete the sales contract was 100% good money, agent’s commission, vat included etc, I get the brand new product that I bought in good faith with a 3 year guarantee included. 2 months after the 3rd year the cookie hits the fan when the product packs up and the dealer tells you that product is replaced with a newer model – therefore the simple startup motherboard of this R39 000 tv is not available any more – salesman’s advice: “just buy a new one”.
My attitude is: Never, but never again will I buy a product of this brand name again – does not matter what product made by them, it left a bitter taste when it comes to customer care / after sales services from dealer / manufacturer’s side – my money was good, the product not good enough to make it a fair deal.

I have sympathy & agree. For example, when one buys a used vehicle (at say 3yrs old at less than half the price of new) one would anticipate to budget for sooner maintenance. Can be forgiven on a used car.

BUT, when one buys brand new…out of the box…I EXPECT the item to be 100% faultless. One’s money is good enough for the premium one pays for the privilege to have zero trouble. On a brand new car , such trouble (even covered with warranty) leaves a much higher sour after-taste!

I find it strange that Ford would mismanage the situation so badly. Silly responses to serious events can cost companies dearly. I think they are about to rediscover this. Afriforum has done good work on many fronts, and in contrast to what many people would like to portray, they support all South Africans, regardless of race. They support high moral values and ethical standards, but are often painted differently by those who stand to win by corruption or have a confused sense of reality.

What I find inordinately humorous and and passing strange, is that
those who have been hard done by, by goverment and/or corporate SA, and the wealthy, politically connected, get helped by the much maligned Afriforum, when no other succor is available. Maybe Max and his prosthesis, Melanie, could explain their irrational and violent dislike of Afriforum and the Africaner in general(maybe we should rather direct this question to a Shrink), and the fact that Afriforum is prepared to help Pro Bono those who cannot afford costly lawyers, regardless of their ethnicity. Where is the Anc, DA and EFF, etc? Too busy filling their own pockets. A girl gets assaulted by Mrs Mugabe on SA soil- ANC gov. gives the assailant immunity- who does she turn to -Afriforum. And then there is the passing strange case of the young Zuma accident where a young lady was killed. No, my dear Max, There is a most fitting phrase my Africaans friends use when referring to you- a 2 gat Jackal.

One day – eventually – Max will turn 40 and then he will become conservative. Most people become noticeably more conservative once they hit this milestone!!

Not only Fords catch fire.
Mercedes Benz also suffer from self combustion
as do Kia / Hyundai

and supercars are not exempt either. Ferraris 458 and Lambos burn to crisp. In short, most cars can self emolate, there are no exceptions.

Ford acted in bad faith in the RSA, they would not dare do the same in the USA.

Ford is about to learn a very expensive lesson.

The Ford company response is a classic example of an evasive and cynical PR non-response.

Its what you get when the C-suite forget that ethical responsibility – and behavior – is THEIR responsibility.

When boards allow themselves to be directed by their lawyers in ethical matters, then they reveal that they not ethical at all. No matter what their PR claims.

The entire Ford board needs to be replaced.

I wish Afriforum every success in dealing with these corporate scum.

The same goes for Momentum, and other duplicitous unethical scumbag management who think it’s “smart” to pull a fast one on customers they can bully when nobody was looking.

End of comments.



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