Ford Kuga inquest: Witness says he always suspected foul play

2019-03-26 19:16
Renisha Jimmy, sister of Reshall Jimmy who burnt to death in a Ford Kuga. (Deaan Vivier/Netwerk24)

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

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One of the first witnesses at the scene on the night Reshall Jimmy's Ford Kuga went up in flames maintains his initial thought was that foul play was involved in the inferno.

Andrew Roberts had been in Wilderness for a golf holiday when he was flagged down by a couple who pointed out that the SUV was burning on a nearby roadside four years ago.

He and his friend Joe van Zyl had driven past Jimmy's vehicle, not realising it was alight.

Roberts had not seen any sparks or smoke coming from the bonnet, he said.

In a video played during inquest proceedings on Tuesday in the Western Cape High Court, Roberts can be heard on the scene with other bystanders phoning the authorities and commenting about the size of the blaze.

According to Roberts, it appeared to him that the fire was emanating from the back of the Kuga.


He claimed to have seen an old maroon car with about four coloured occupants making an illegal U-turn about 800m from the scene.

Roberts, who is on day two of his testimony, said he had spoken to Van Zyl on Monday night to warn him about how "hectic" testifying was.

He testified that he had also discussed with his friend that it had come across that they had been prejudiced by calling the men in the car near the scene "scaly dudes", denying that he was being discriminatory.

READ: Gruesome details of post-mortem on Kuga driver's body revealed at inquest

Judge Robert Henney told Roberts it was possible to be prejudiced without even being aware of it, pointing out that this could have been why he made the link between the maroon car with the coloured occupants and what they thought was a crime.

In the video Roberts and other witnesses can be heard sharing theories about how the fire started. Roberts' was that someone was shot in an execution and the vehicle had been doused in petrol.

None of the bystanders had tried to open the car door, afraid the vehicle would explode.

Ford could face culpable homicide charge

Advocate Gerrie Nel, representing Jimmy's family, said he wanted to prove that the occupants in the car had nothing to do with the burning car.

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

If the inquest establishes that the vehicle company was at fault for Jimmy's death, the National Prosecuting Authority 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.

Nel asked Roberts why he had sent a video of the incident to the police as well as to Ford, accusing him of siding with the company.

Roberts denied this, saying he had wanted to assist with the investigations.

Assumption based on 'a feeling'

"I stated what I saw. No manipulation," he said.

He conceded, however, that he, Van Zyl and two other friends who had been on the scene had made the assumption that foul play had been involved in the blaze.

"We always had that feeling, whether it's wrong or right," he said.

When pressed on what he based this on, Roberts repeatedly referred to "a feeling".

He accepted that he had no evidence to prove foul play and admitted there had been nothing he noticed at the scene that indicated this.

Ford Motor Company's advocate Andre Bezuidenhout asked Roberts if he had any racial bias against coloured people.

"No, definitely not," he responded, saying he would have reacted the same way had the car's occupants been white.

Darren McKay, a friend of Roberts and Van Zyl, had arrived at the scene when about 10 bystanders had already been there.

McKay said he had not suspected foul play, as he had no reason to.

The inquest continues on Wednesday.

Read more on:    ford kuga

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