Gunshots and 10-hour casino visits: Allegations fly before Jimmy inquest even starts

2019-02-04 16:08
Reshall Jimmy's sister Renisha, with her attorney Rod Montano and advocate Gerrie Nel. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Reshall Jimmy's sister Renisha, with her attorney Rod Montano and advocate Gerrie Nel. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Ten witness statements are still outstanding in the inquest into the death of Reshall Jimmy, who was found dead in his burnt-out Ford Kuga four years ago, and they include shocking allegations of gunfire and 10-hour-long casino visits.

The statements are from bystanders, who claim they saw five suspects flee from the burning vehicle and get into a getaway car, and that Jimmy had spent 10 hours at a local casino that day.

As a result, proceedings to determine the cause of Jimmy's death while he was on holiday in Wilderness in 2015, were postponed in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

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.

But, what was expected to be lengthy proceedings failed to take off on Monday when State advocate Anthony Stephen, SC, requested a postponement after a Ford-commissioned investigator presented the parties with evidence it claimed had not been explored by the police during their initial investigation.

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

Stephen said two senior police officers - a brigadier and a colonel - had been handed the case for further investigation after he wrote to the provincial police commissioner requesting this.

Ford Motor Company's advocate Andre Bezuidenhout nevertheless clawed into the policing during the preliminary probe.

He told the court that the company had received the "lacking and not fully organised" docket in November.

Its investigator, a former police officer and investigations head of the disbanded Scorpions, found that numerous eyewitness accounts were outstanding and that the investigating officer had not followed up on "patently clear" aspects as well as requests from the prosecutor for a follow up.

Bezuidenhout said there were 10 witness statements that were still outstanding from witnesses who Ford had not "scratched out of nowhere".

Among the claims were that gunshots and an explosion had been heard and that male occupants of a car sped away from the scene after Jimmy's vehicle caught alight.

It was also alleged that Jimmy had not arrived from Johannesburg in the holiday town that night, but that he had been at a Mossel Bay casino for 10 hours where he was involved in an altercation.

A rifle "doppie" and casino chips had allegedly also been found at the scene where the Kuga was razed.

Another bystander claimed to have seen Jimmy being shot in his vehicle.

READ: Ford Kuga death: 'It's been a fight to get to this day', says family as inquest is set to begin

Bezuidenhout further questioned why a healthy 32-year-old man would not have been able to get out of a burning vehicle. Instead, he was found seated on the driver's side with his seat belt in place.

The Jimmy family's advocate, AfriForum's Gerrie Nel, SC, said Ford had demanded personal and private details which he had refused.

Jimmy's medical records, bank statements and cellphone data had been requested, which Nel considered "immaterial and private information".

But Judge Robert Henney said Jimmy's health records were relevant as well as his cellphone information up to two days of the incident.

Nel said Ford indicated they had "deep pockets". He warned that AfriForum would privately prosecute if the NPA "doesn't want to".

The inquest is expected to commence on March 18 when formal evidence is expected to be presented.

Ford already indicated that it had a list of 42 witnesses.

After the proceedings, Jimmy's sister Renisha said the allegations relating to her brother's death were "nonsense". 

"I am extremely confident that it's absolute hearsay because none of it is true. I know my brother and … the truth will prevail. I'm not even bothered with what they're saying at this point because it's not true."

Read more on:    ford  |  reshall jimmy  |  gerrie nel  |  courts
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