Grieving family’s plea to Ford: Do the right thing

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Durban – While Ford SA has made contact with almost 40 owners of Kuga SUVs that caught alight due to a fault to offer them “support”, the family of a man who died when his car burst into flames are fuming at allegedly being left out.

The sister of Reshall Jimmy said no settlement offer was made by Ford following the death of her brother who died when his Kuga caught fire in 2015. Renisha Jimmy said she was appalled to discover that Ford had contacted all other complainants except for her family.

“We were the only party they haven’t called, which is shocking,” she said. “It’s sad that they haven’t taken his death more seriously. How can they still ignore Reshall’s matter? It really questions the ethics of Ford.”

Reshall Jimmy died in December 2015 when his 2014 Ford Kuga caught fire. File photo: Supplied

Jimmy said while she was happy that other families were receiving some sort of relief for their troubles, Ford needed to also compensate them.

“Especially after we grouped all the complainants together and were responsible for pursuing the class action lawsuit against Ford.”

Ford reaching out

Ford SA’s customer relations department has made contact with Kuga complainants over the past month offering compensation for financial losses and sessions with a Ford-appointed therapist. This came weeks before a National Consumer Commission investigative report is set to be released.

Commission spokesman confirmed that the report had been completed and was going through an internal process of approval. It is believed that Ford SA was made privy to the draft findings and recommendations before the final approval of the report.

In July 2017 Ford began the second phase of a safety recall for all affected Kuga 1.6 models, and requested customers to schedule an appointment with their dealer to have the vehicle upgrades completed. This was designed to mitigate the risk of an engine fire resulting from a cracked cylinder head caused by a loss of coolant, and applied to all affected Kuga 1.6 models built at a plant in Spain between May 8, 2012 and September 27, 2014.

Jimmy said she was looking forward to the findings in the report

“We are waiting in anticipation for answers and we hope that Ford will be found accountable for what they have done,” she said. “They need to take responsibility. We need closure. They need to do the right thing and end the pain that they’ve put our family through. It’s especially difficult for my mom, who’s now 65 and is having health problems.”

Forensic investigation

Ford said it received 39 complaints of Kugas catching fire, including the one belonging to Jimmy, who was travelling to George when his car caught fire in Wilderness on 4 December, 2015.

His brother, Kaveen Jimmy, said Reshall had bought his Ford Kuga new in 2014.

The family hired forensic experts who ascertained the fire started with the car’s electronic wiring system behind the dashboard on the passenger side. Ford has denied this.

Ford SA product communication manager Minesh Bhagaloo said: “We have been contacting our customers and have been in contact with the Jimmy family on several occasions… Given the sensitive and unique circumstances of the case relating to the death of Reshall Jimmy, and the possibility of ongoing legal proceedings, we have nothing further to add on this matter at this time.”

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