Family of Kuga victim hit out against car company allegation
THE Jimmy family have hit out against the chief executive of Ford South Africa for suggesting Reshall Jimmy committed suicide and didn’t die from burning in his Ford Kuga.
Jimmy’s sister Ranisha Jimmy said yesterday her mother was inconsolable after Jeff Nemeth, CEO of Ford SA, told the family during a meeting that there was new evidence suggesting Reshall had committed suicide or had been murdered.
He said a police officer who was at the scene said he saw a bullet hole in Reshall’s skull.
Reshall died on December 4, 2015, after the Ford Kuga he was driving burst into flames.
“My mom kept crying. She kept asking why they were saying Reshall committed suicide. I haven’t seen my mom cry like that, not even at Rashall’s funeral,” Ranisha said.
She said she and Nemeth communicated for two months where he said he had a mandate from the international head office to settle the matter, only to turn around and make claims that Reshall did not die because of any fault with the car he was driving.
“The chief post-mortem findings made by me were the body is severely charred, no internal or discernible external injuries with no discernible evidence of a shooting.
“The blood is cherry red in colour and the trachea (wind pipe) is lined by a large amount of soot. Cause of death is therefore noted as severe charring,” said Rod Montano as he read the coroner’s autopsy report.
Montano, the Jimmy family’s attorney, said the coroner had found no evidence of a bullet wound in the skull and this was confirmed by Dr David Klatzow, a forensic specialist the family hired to assist in the matter.
“We can take it with absolute certainty that there is no bullet hole in the skull,” Klatzow said.
During an autopsy, he said, one would pull back the skin around the head to reveal the skull in order to examine it, and the coroner found that there was no bullet wound in Reshall’s skull.
The Jimmy family and their lawyer spoke to the media at a National Press Club briefing in Pretoria yesterday. They revealed that Ford SA had offered them another vehicle of their choice within the brand to the value of R1 million, which they rejected.
“I would want Ford to take responsibility and apologise to the family for the suicide allegations and the murder allegations. Taking responsibility for me is key,” the sister said.
Minesh Bhagaloo, product communications manager for Ford South Africa, said they recognised how devastating the loss of Reshall had been for the family.
“Given the sensitive and unique circumstances of the case relating to the death of Mr Jimmy, and the possibility of ongoing legal proceedings, we have nothing further to add on this matter at this time,” Bhagaloo said.
Ford has been embroiled in a public relations nightmare since Reshall’s death in the Ford Kuga, and various other reports of Kugas catching fire.
In January, Ford South Africa recalled the 1.6-litre Ford Kuga model. The car marker said a total of 4 556 Kugas, built between December 2012 and February 2014 were affected by the recall.