Widow sues Toyota for P2 Billion over husband’s death
Nearly five years after her husband tragically died in a road accident, an angry widow is suing Mahalapye’s Broadway Motors, together with its supplier, Toyota, demanding P2 billion for their perceived role in his death.
Konopo Phillimon, a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor for Tshikinyega ward in Mahalapye died when his car, a Toyota Raider Single Cab, smashed into a bus – an accident that he was alleged to have caused deliberately.
At the time, his death was dismissed as a suicide, supposedly triggered by the combined burden of his family’s financial problems and the stress of a looming court case that he faced for alleged theft.
But it now seems that might not have been the case.
The late Councillor’s widow, 42-year-old Masego Phillimon, is convinced that her husband’s death was the result of a manufacturing defect with his car.
In an exclusive interview with Masego at her home, she revealed that her husband bought the vehicle in 2010, to celebrate his election as Tshikinyega Ward’s councillor the previous year.
Speaking in hushed tones, she explained that after her husband’s death in 2012, she continued using his mobile phone to run the family’s businesses.
To her shock, in April this year, she received a phone call from Broadway Motors, telling her the car was faulty and that she needed to return it immediately.
“They asked me to bring back the vehicle because it was one of those sold to clients with faults. They wanted to attend to its spiral cables and driver’s airbag,” she said, adding that her husband would still be alive if the glitch was spotted in time.
Taking a second to compose herself as the memory of her husband’s death threatened to momentarily overwhelm her, Masego showed The Voice a copy of a letter she has sent to Broadway in Mahalapye and The Manager at Toyota in South Africa.
The letter reads in part: “As per your invoice, (Broadway) in the agreement between the deceased and Toyota, it was clear that the vehicle in question was effective. We were convinced that the airbag will protect us during accidents but it has come to our attention that safety was compromised. As a customer I feel that I was cheated and misled.”
Masego’s P2 billion demand comes after Toyota offered her a Toyota Avanza (2017 Model, 1.5TX with a warranty of three years or 100 000km) as an apparent gesture of goodwill.
“This settlement proposal is issued solely in an effort to settle the matter amicably, as a gesture of goodwill and should not be construed as making any admissions to any claims raised,” reads a statement from Toyota.
Masego has since turned down the offer, vowing to fight the motor giants until ‘justice is served’.
“I lost a husband, breadwinner and the father to my four kids due to their negligence. I have been to prison because of the debts we incurred due to them – had my husband not died I would not know the inside of a prison,” she fumed, producing a prison detainee document as evidence of her civil imprisonment.
When contacted for a comment, Broadway Manager, Mia Nazir confirmed meeting with the complainant, adding that they referred her to Toyota as the issue involved a factory fault.
“Toyota recalled a number of cars and I think they are in a better position to comment on this matter,” said Nazir.
Unfortunately, efforts to get a comment from South African Toyota proved futile as they did not respond to The Voice’s queries.