The family of Reshall Jimmy, the man who died when his Ford Kuga caught fire, are not pleased with the motor manufacturer's decision to recall the vehicles for repairs. Renisha and Kaveen Jimmy spoke at the National Press Club in Pretoria on Tuesday where Renisha said the move still left car owners in danger.
"It's not a proper recall that they have done. People are taking in their cars and they go for repairs. They should have taken those cars off the road. South Africans don't feel safe. It's gobsmacking for me that they would do that," she said.
Kaveen questioned the company's ability to ensure that the vehicles would be fixed properly during the recall. He said his brother had numerous problems with the car before it burst into flames and killed him.
He said the first issue that Reshall had had with his car was that the brakes were wearing faster than normal and he'd advised him to replace them to ensure he is safe.
"He then had problems of power failure. I once sat with him in the vehicle and the car would lose power and he said he compensated for that by heavily applying the accelerator and then everything would go back to normal. There is an affidavit of his car idling while it was locked with the keys in his pocket. Before going to George, he took it to Ford to check it and they told him it was safe and good to go. Shortly after his death, they alleged there was no trail of the service history. How safe are their repairs?" said Kaveen.
"They could have reacted sooner. These fires have taken place throughout the country."
Reshall died in December 2015 while he was on holiday in the Western Cape. His family believe an electrical fault on the dashboard led to the inferno that claimed his life, while the investigation report Ford shared with the family indicated that the fire started in the car's boot and spread. The family disputed this, saying there were witnesses who could corroborate that it had actually started in the front.
The family has also indicated serious dissatisfaction with how Ford handled the matter, saying the company hadn't communicated with them. The lawyer representing the family, Rod Montano, said it took more than a year before there was cooperation.
David Klatzow, the independent forensic investigator working for the family on the case, said the evidence he'd found contradicted the company's version and accused Ford of trying to hide a report that points to the fire starting at the front of the car.
"They said the fire started in the boot and that can't be correct. There were eyewitnesses who saw the fire at the front of the vehicle under the dashboard. Their report is incorrect and was immaturely done," said Klatzow.
Ford has brought an application against the Jimmy family, demanding access to information and cooperation, but Klatzow said they had told the company they would work with them if the company also provided the family with information requested on the incident. "For them to come to court and say we were uncooperative is simply untrue."
On Monday Ford announced the recall of 4556 Ford Kugas, all those with the1.6l EcoBoost engine sold in South Africa between December 2012 and February 2014. Ford South Africa CEO and president Jeff Nemeth said the company was aware of 39 vehicles that caught fire.
The affected families are now in the process of instituting a class lawsuit against the automotive company.
Kaveen said the family would like to see the matter being put to rest and the company taking full responsibility for what happened.
"They need to stop making a mockery of my brother's death. It seems they are fighting personal battles instead of finding the source of the fire. We want a conclusion to find out what caused the fire, and a sincere apology to my mom. From what we understand on how this fire started, it's for Ford to make a concerted effort to find out how the fire started," he said.