The National Consumer Commission has fined the Ford Motor Company R35 million for the Kuga SUV fires, which have seen a number of vehicles bursting into flames.
The company has also agreed to compensate consumers affected by the fires. Compensation will amount to R50,000 each.
The commission made the announcement at a briefing in Pretoria following negotiations which started earlier this year.
The defective cars – which would catch alight without notice – started making headlines when Reshall Jimmy was found burnt to death in his Kuga in the Western Cape in 2015.
Ford has denied being responsible for that fire, but there have been many incidents since.
For a number of years now, social media would occasionally feature videos of Ford Kugas stopped on busy roads with flames and smoke billowing from their bonnets – as their helpless owners looked on.
The company issued a recall in 2017, which affected about 7,000 vehicles.
National Consumer Commission acting commissioner Thezi Mbuza says their investigation established that 46 Ford Kugas caught alight.
She said Ford engaged in prohibited conduct by distributing a product that failed due to a cooling system issue.
“Ford Motor Company of South Africa acknowledges that it is liable for the harm. It has offered to pay a sum of R50,000 to the each of those consumers who are owners of the vehicles which combusted.”
Affected consumers have three choices – either accept Ford’s offer, enter a mediation process or pursue civil action of their own against the company.