Ford must be forced to face music

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Money is the root of all evil, goes the adage.

The aphorism seems to hold true for a company as filthy rich as Ford, which apparently is trying to block any moves to pay proper compensation to victims whose Ford Kuga SUVs were destroyed in fires between 2015 and last year.

The fires destroyed more than 80 cars, with 4,556 recalled by the US motor giant because of fire safety issue, but it now appears that the victims will not get proper compensation from Ford after it entered into "secret" talks with the National Consumer Commission.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the SA's watchdog has made an about-turn on its stated intention to prosecute Ford after the company approached it to reach a negotiated settlement.

If a settlement is reached, the details of cases that could have been aired during Ford's prosecution at the National Consumer Tribunal will remain unknown.

The victims are not asking for too much; they only want Ford to pay what is due to them.

They also want Ford to be prosecuted. Is that asking too much?

We also want details of these cases to be laid bare before a tribunal. This scandal has been running for too long and, like the victims and their families, we want closure.

It can't be a problem for a company of Ford's stature to properly compensate the victims.

But the suspicion is it's trying all manner of tricks not to pay.

One of the consumer lawyers the Sunday Times spoke to says it is understandable the NCC had taken the settlement route "because they don't have the resources needed to fight a case like this compared to what a global giant like Ford has".

Another lawyer says while there's 50-50 chance on who can win [the case], there's a good chance, with all the money Ford has to hire the best lawyers, that the company will win on technicalities or an appeal.

But money should not dictate to Ford not to pay and its bosses should follow their conscience and do the right thing and give what belongs to the victims. They should also apologise to the victims.

The victims and their families have gone through a lot and the last thing they want is Ford's apparent arrogance.

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