The family of Reshall Jimmy, whose death is subject of a high court inquest, will no longer be participating in the probe into what transpired when he burnt to death in his Ford Kuga four years ago.
Jimmy’s death has been the subject of an ongoing inquest in the Western Cape High Court this year after he was found dead in his car in the Wilderness four years ago.
Family attorney Rod Montano said they accepted that Reshall had died in the vehicle, but that the cause had been undetermined.
Jimmy’s sister Renisha told News24 the family was satisfied with the inquest proceedings and had only wanted closure, following allegations that her brother had committed suicide or had been murdered.
AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel, who took on the family’s legal case pro bono, said the Jimmys had been briefed on how the inquest would proceed and were “content therewith”, requesting to be excused from attending further.
Renisha had represented the family at every sitting of the case at her own cost.
She and her legal team felt confident that “justice has prevailed thus far and will continue to prevail until the end”, Nel told Judge Robert Henney.
“Our intention has always been to dispel the unfounded rumours and we are now convinced that the evidence led thus far excludes any indication linking the death of the deceased to any criminality, suicide or that he was murdered as was rumoured at the commencement of the inquest,” Nel said.
Reshall’s family have, ever since the incident, maintained that an electrical fire caused his death and obtained a report from a fire specialist which backed this theory up.
Reshall was found dead in his burnt-out 2014 1.6L Ford Kuga in Wilderness, George, on December 4, 2015. More reports of Kugas catching fire emerged, and Ford would later issue recall notices to make adjustments to some of its models.
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.
Earlier in the inquest, fire investigator Hendrik McLeod, of Fire Wise Consultants, and contracted by insurance company Telesure, testified that an electrical short circuit had caused the fire.
According to McLeod’s findings, a live wire from the vehicle’s battery to its ignition crossed another which led from the ignition to the subsidiary circuit module. One of these wires had been damaged, he testified, and had come into contact with the bare metal body, resulting in the short circuit.
But John Loud, the US-based expert hired by Ford to determine what happened to Jimmy’s vehicle, told the court that there was no evidence that any product failure within Ford’s control had caused the fire.
The cause was undetermined, he had testified, and there was also no answer as to why Jimmy did not get out of the vehicle when the fire started.
The inquest continues.