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Ford's silence a breach of law

Ford broke the law when it failed to tell the National Consumer Commission of Kuga owner Reshall Jimmy's death - and in so doing potentially jeopardising public safety by not telling the motor industry ombudsman.

Ford's silence a breach of law
©Francis Dean via 123RF
This charge is contained in one of a number of affidavits in which police have accused the global car manufacturing giant of deliberately obstructing detectives in their investigation into Jimmy's death.

Jimmy died when his car caught fire while he was on holiday in the Wilderness, in Western Cape, in December 2015.

"It is clear that Ford was obliged to inform the commission of Jimmy's death. They failed to do so. It has failed to comply with the law," said Colonel Rozelle Kruger, a legal officer in the Western Cape provincial police commissioner's office. She was responding in an affidavit to Ford's urgent High Court application to obtain the evidence in the police inquest docket into 33-year-old Jimmy's death.

While Ford says the fire started at the back of the car, it has been unable to explain the cause. Police and private and insurance forensic fire investigators believe an electrical fault behind the dashboard on the passenger side of the vehicle caused the fire.

Since Jimmy's death, 51 1.6l Kugas have caught alight in South Africa. Two others have caught fire in Swaziland and Botswana. As well as the 1.6l 2014 Kugas catching fire, other Kugas and other models - Figos, Fiestas and Focuses - have also caught fire.

Last week, Ford, under intense pressure from the consumer commission, resulting from the growing concern of Ford owners, announced a safety recall, but only of 1.6l Kugas built between 2012 and 2014. More than 4,500 Kugas are affected by the recall.

The company believes the fires are caused by a faulty coolant system and are unrelated to Jimmy's Kuga fire.

Kruger and Constable Thembekile Matwa, who is investigating Jimmy's death, submitted affidavits to the Cape Town High Court on Monday, in which they claim Ford broke the law and obstructed their investigations and potentially jeopardised public safety.

In its affidavit, Ford says the police and Jimmy family deliberately thwarted its investigation into the cause of the fire. The evidence Ford wants to see includes video footage of Jimmy's burning car. Ford has also made a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to try to obtain the evidence contained in the docket.

Kruger, in her affidavit, said it was clear that Ford was obliged to inform the commission of Jimmy's death but it had failed to do so. She said Ford's urgency to obtain the docket was "self-created".

Source: The Times


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