Jimmy family seeks private prosecution in Ford Kuga death

The family of Reshall Jimmy‚ who burnt to death in his Ford Kuga‚ are planning on prosecuting the global car manufacturer themselves after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute the company.

Reshall died while on holiday in Knysna in the Western Cape in December 2015. Since his death‚ 62 other Kugas have caught alight across the country.

In the last two weeks‚ two more Kugas‚ which were repaired under a national safety recall‚ have caught fire.

For months Ford has insisted that the fires were caused by a faulty engine coolant system.

The National Consumer Commission is investigating Ford SA.

Kuga owners happy‚ despite a second recall on the fire prone carsIt hasn’t been a good year for owners of the “fire fix recall” Kugas‚ but many remain happy with their cars despite the reactions of the general public. 

Documents in The Times’s possession show that on 17 May the Western Cape Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) declined to prosecute and instead referred the matter to a magistrate to hold an inquest.

The Jimmys were only told of the decision two weeks ago when their lawyer‚ Rod Montano‚ met with prosecutors in George.

The publication has seen a copy of a letter explaining the provincial prosecution head’s decision not to prosecute or compel Ford Motors to disclose internal documents.

“I declined to prosecute at this stage. I also declined to apply for the warrants. The statements in the docket must be laid before the Magistrate with a view to his holding an inquest. In view of the extensive publicity it is strongly recommended that the magistrate hold a formal inquest‚” Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock wrote.

Another safety recall for fiery Kugas as Ford tries to prevent more catching alightFord South Africa on Wednesday invited owners of the 4‚556 Kugas affected by its safety recall to return their cars for Phase 2 of the modifications‚ which are designed to prevent them from catching fire — and this time the dealerships are said to be ready and waiting. 

NPA sources with knowledge of the case said the NPA would only become involved if the magistrate ruled that someone should be prosecuted.

Jimmy’s sister‚ Renisha Jimmy‚ said the family was disappointed by the latest development.

“Our last resort for justice was the NPA‚ who gave us the impression that they were going to provide us with a date for the inquest. They also indicated that they would subpoena people to appear before the inquest.”

She said the family were questioning the NPA’s motive for not prosecuting Ford.

Montano said the DPP had not given reasons as to why the case would not be prosecuted.

“For months they have sat on this‚ and then with no explanation‚ we are told sorry‚ there will be no prosecution.”

Montano said the decision had taken them by surprise.

“They did so without issuing any subpoenas to Ford‚ requesting documents or relevant information‚ which could have been vital to the NPA in terms of them coming to a decision on whether to prosecute the matter or not.”

Eric Ntabazalila‚ NPA Western Cape regional spokesman‚ said the decision was taken “due to a lack of evidence which would ensure a successful prosecution“.

He said the date of the inquest would depend on the magistrate.

“The NPA will not play any role during the inquest. But if the magistrate finds that there is evidence of a commission of a crime‚ that docket will be brought to us for a decision‚” he said.

Montano said he would now request the NPA to provide his clients with a certificate of nolle prosequi — a formal certificate stating that they refuse to prosecute a matter in order to begin the private prosecution process parallel to the inquest.


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