Ford Kuga fire saga: Sister claims Ford wanted family to say brother shot himself in exchange for R1m car

The family of Reshall Jimmy, who burnt to death in his Ford Kuga in December 2015, claim they were offered a R1m vehicle and a trust meant for charity if the family admitted that Reshall was killed by a gunshot wound.

This was revealed by Reshall's sister, Renisha Jimmy, during a joint press conference with AfriForum held on Tuesday in Pretoria. 

According to AfriForum's head of private prosecution unit, advocate Gerrie Nel, and the Jimmy family, the settlement offer was made after numerous meetings between Ford and the family.

Nel said that Ford offered the family a vehicle to the value of R1m and said a trust would be opened in the name of Reshall to be used for charitable causes. No financial value was attached to the trust.

"So Jeff Nemeth (former Ford South Africa CEO) actually said they are making that offer in the presence of my mother, but we need to say that Reshall was shot in the middle of his head. That's what happened," Renisha said during the briefing.

"We said no. This is not about some form of an offer, it's about getting justice and the truth of what actually happened.

READ MORE: Ford boss wanted post-mortem, toxicology reports from Kuga victim's family

"As we all know, Ford has dragged Reshall's name through the mud. Initially, they said he was murdered, then they said he committed suicide.

"We just heard from a lady who had a current fire very similar to Reshall's that she was told Reshall was suffering from depression and committed suicide, that's what happened to him," Renisha added.

She said the family wants justice and for Ford to take responsibility.

According to Nel, the Jimmy family was told by certain employees during some of the meetings that the company has "deep pockets".

"Creating the impression that they can do what they want to and defend it," said Nel.

Read: Siblings of man killed in Ford Kuga fire speak at press club

Nel added that these comments were confirmed to him by the person who made them, as well as by Ford's lawyers.

"I confronted the person and he admitted it.

"Whenever you confront a bully and they are caught out, they then try and rationalise their conduct," Nel said, adding that Ford said the comments had to be placed into context.

He said that at one point Ford just stopped communicating with the Jimmy family until AfriForum got involved.

None of the questions News24 sent to Ford relating to the statements made by Renisha and Nel were answered.

Instead, Ford sent a short press release saying that its deepest sympathies continue to be with the Jimmy family.

"We remain cooperative with the authorities to help all parties reach a resolution, including the start of a formal inquest to gain closure on the many unanswered questions surrounding this case. Customers can be assured that our commitment remains on delivering safe vehicles," said Minesh Bhagaloo, Ford product communications manager.

When asked for clarity on the questions going unanswered, Bhagaloo said Ford had no further comment.

Formal inquest

Nel also announced that a formal inquest into Reshall's death would start in February 2019 and would be headed by a High Court judge in the Western Cape.

"The criminal justice system of South Africa failed the victim in this case. The family has been waiting for almost three years for the case to be investigated and AfriForum wrote letters imploring the magistrate's court in George to hold a formal inquest," Nel said.

According to AfriForum and the Jimmy family, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided not to prosecute Ford for Reshall's death and denied the family a nolle prosequi certificate (to signal that they would no longer prosecute) because they are awaiting the results of the inquest.

The Jimmy family said they would be filing a civil claim against Ford next month.

Nel concluded by saying that if the NPA still declined to prosecute after the inquest had made a finding, AfriForum would consider a private prosecution.

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