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Ford compensates S.African owners for SUV fires

US automaker Ford has paid out cash damages to dozens of South African car owners after of its Kuga SUVs caught fire due to a manufacturing fault, a consumer watchdog said Thursday.

The National Consumer Commission which mediated between the carmaker and consumers said out of 53 claims that were lodged, 47 accepted a payment of 50,000 rand ($3,290) each.

Three others turned down the offer and opted to go to court to seek greater compensation, while another three claims were rejected because they failed to “prove that their loss fell within the parameters of settlement agreement,” said the consumer commission.

“Ford agreed to pay each consumer R50,000.00 as compensation if their vehicle were distributed during the period 2014 to 2017, and that vehicle was one of the … Ford Kuga vehicles that caught fire,” it said in a statement.

The company said the fires were caused by overheating due to poor coolant circulation that led to an oil leak.

The fault forced Ford to recall 4,500 cars from South African roads.

The vehicles were built in Valencia, Spain, between December 2012 and February 2014.

One driver was killed after his Kuga caught fire although Ford disputes it was due to that manufacturing fault.

Separately, the car giant was slapped with a 35 million rand ($2.3 million) fine over the fires by South Africa’s consumer watchdog last year.