The public outcry over Ford’s “combustible Kugas”, which have been linked to the death of Reshall Jimmy while on holiday in the Wilderness in 2015, is about to ratchet up another level with the company due to face a National Consumer Commission tribunal hearing.
Ford is already facing one of the biggest public backlashes in South African automotive history and if it is found culpable, the company could face a sanction equivalent to 10% of annual turnover – a sum experts estimate could run into billions of rands.
Commission spokesperson Trevor Hattingh confirmed that Ford had been notified it was under investigation. The commission noted that a report submitted by Ford on the issue “left much to be desired” and “to say that it was flimsy would be an understatement. To say that it resembled an actual investigation would be questionable”.
With public approbation, falling sales and plummeting trade-in values already facing Ford, it is hardly unexpected that the latest move – and the possibility of a huge fine – is the last thing the company would want to face. The commission tribunal has the power to demand and examine any correspondence, down to internal e-mails, it deems necessary. For the manufacturer, this could seize the engine irreparably.