AfriForum announced at a media conference in Centurion today that Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of the civil rights organisation’s Private Prosecution Unit, will be supporting the Jimmy family against Ford Motor Company after Reshall Jimmy burnt to death in December 2015 when the Ford Kuga he was driving caught alight.
“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 states.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided not to prosecute Ford and denied the family a nolle prosequi certificate because they were awaiting the result of the inquest. AfriForum has monitored and assisted with the process leading up to the announcement of a formal inquest to be held before a Judge of the High Court, which will start on 4 February 2019.
Nel adds that it is unacceptable that international corporate bullies like Ford regard themselves as above the law: “We were astonished that Ford seized all communication with the victims and, during discussion with the family, made statements like ‘we have deep pockets’.”
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit will represent the family during the inquest and hope to obtain a clear, unequivocal response from Ford regarding the status of the expert report that was received from a Mr. Young shortly after the incident. “We believe that this information will support the family’s version of the events surrounding the fire, among others that the fire was caused by a mechanical fault. Interestingly, according to our knowledge, Ford obtained two expert reports about the possible cause of the fire but have made neither available to the family and/or the SAPS,” says Nel.
Since AfriForum’s involvement, Ford appointed private legal representatives to ‘continue the dialogue’ but the civil rights organisation experienced, like the family has over the past three years, an absence of any real attempt to communicate. According to Nel, this case is a further step in AfriForum’s strategy to establish the concept of private prosecution.