Ford Kuga inquest: Bullet cartridge, casino chips dismissed as airbag parts, 'monopoly money'

2019-03-08 16:24
Renisha Jimmy, sister of Reshall Jimmy who burnt to death in a Ford Kuga. (File, Deaan Vivier/Netwerk24)

Renisha Jimmy, sister of Reshall Jimmy who burnt to death in a Ford Kuga. (File, Deaan Vivier/Netwerk24)

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A supposed bullet cartridge and casino chips retrieved from the fire scene when Reshall Jimmy's body burnt out in his Ford Kuga in the Wilderness four years ago was, in fact, a part of the vehicle's airbag system and "monopoly money", the State revealed on Friday.

This, after allegations of gunfire and 10-hour-long casino visits from bystanders and interviewees were filed in a report by a Ford-commissioned investigator ahead of an inquest into Jimmy's death.

On Friday, Judge Robert Henney presided over the final pre-trial conference ahead of the inquest, which commences later in March in the Western Cape High Court.

If the inquest establishes that the vehicle company was at fault for Jimmy's death, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) could charge Ford with culpable homicide.

It previously declined to prosecute and opted for an inquest instead because there was no realistic possibility of a conviction at the time due to insufficient evidence.

Jimmy's family believes that an electrical fire caused his death and obtained a report from a fire specialist which pointed to this.

During proceedings, Ford Motor Company's advocate Andre Bezuidenhout questioned the whereabouts of the supposed bullet cartridge and casino chips, which he said had not been handed in as evidence.

A first-report witness, who had made a video of what happened that night, told the investigator he had seen a copper item – a supposed rifle "doppie" – at the scene the next morning and contacted the police.

According to the docket, the item would be examined by the Explosives Unit the following day. There was no indication that this had been pursued.

Another supposed lead the investigator had found was that Jimmy had been at a Mossel Bay casino for 10 hours where he was involved in an altercation, and had not arrived from Johannesburg in the holiday town the night he died.

State advocate Anthony Stephen, SC, said these items had not been handed in as evidence as they were found to have been a part of the Kuga's airbag system and "monopoly money".

According to Bezuidenhout, an inspection of the vehicle by its experts had uncovered a number of exhibits which could prove meaningful.

This included the remains of two cellphones, a USB cable powering one of the devices, two failed lithium ion batteries, a combustible plastic bottle containing an alcohol accelerant with a "flammable" warning, a long-reach lighter found at the footwell of Jimmy's seat and a "virtually intact" laptop recovered in what he called a "remarkably good condition".

Meanwhile, a list of 14 outstanding witnesses have been whittled down to four, the court heard.

Among them is one of the first people who had been on the scene that night.

Henney warned all the parties to ensure that the witnesses could provide factual input to the inquest, and not hearsay. Police should not have to menace people who had nothing material to add to proceedings, as it already had "enough witnesses".

The inquest commences on March 18.

Read more on:    ford  |  accidents
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