WRITE & WRONG
Cricket writer Peter Roebuck, who committed suicide on November 12, could still be investigated for sex crimes
Charges of sexual assault could still be investigated against Peter Roebuck, the prominent English cricket writer who committed suicide in Cape Town on November 12. Roebuck plunged to his death from the sixth floor of his hotel, which is a stone’s throw from where the last Test match he covered was played.
Minutes before his death, Roebuck was apparently met in the lobby of his hotel by members of the plainclothes and uniformed divisions of the police. That conversation would seem to have prompted him to end his life.
The police have declined to com- ment on whether they are investigating a charge of sexual assault against Roebuck. “We can neither confirm nor deny that,” Colonel Vishnu Naidoo, the police spokesperson, told INDIA TODAY. Asked why the police were taking that tack when they could clear up some of the mystery that surrounds Roebuck’s death by answering the question unequivocally, Naidoo said, “I have my reasons.” But he was less vague on whether a criminal investigation would proceed if the prime suspect was dead. “We will not necessarily close the case under those circum-
ROEBUCK WAS QUESTIONED BY POLICEMEN IN THE LOBBY OF HIS CAPE TOWN HOTEL. MINUTES LATER, HE PLUNGED TO HIS DEATH.
stances; providing there is an investigation under way in the first place.”
The fact that Roebuck was, in 2001, convicted of assaulting three young cricketers during coaching sessions at his England home, has fuelled speculation about what may have been a secret life. On November 9, he spoke of having been visited by a young man “who came to my hotel room”, and how he had “40 Zimbabwean cricketers under my care”.
Naidoo said a post-mortem was performed on Roebuck’s body but he was quick to add that the inquest, conducted in cases of unnatural death where foul play is not suspected, could take months or even years to be completed. Roebuck’s body was still in South Africa. Naidoo said he was uncertain about plans for the disposal of the body. Roebuck had homes in both South Africa and Australia.
Roebuck’s death has ignited a lively debate in South Africa’s sports media. Kevin Mccallum, among South Africa’s most prominent sports writers, suggested the wearing of black armbands at the second Test between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers on November 16.
“No doubt the reasons for his suicide will emerge in the next few days, the demons that turned his head may become clearer, but I have not come here to bury the man. I’m here to praise him,” Mccallum wrote. “His writing in cricinfo.com, Sydney Morning Herald and other publications was required reading.
“He did not shy from the fight, and the ICC felt the sting of his backhand, as did Zimbabwean and South African cricket.”
Neal Collins, an English journalist who lives in Johannesburg, greeted what he called “ignorant eulogies” with disgust. “Amazed how many people want to defend Peter Roebuck, a man convicted of assault who ended his life in mid-allegation,” Collins tweeted. In his blog, Collins wrote, “A great cricket writer yes. A great man? No. He spent his life calling a spade a spade on the cricket field but in the end, he dug his own grave.”