Cricket writer Peter Roe­buck, who com­mit­ted sui­cide on Novem­ber 12, could still be in­ves­ti­gated for sex crimes

India Today - - SPORTS - By Telford Vice in Jo­han­nes­burg

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-


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.”

HE­MANT Chawla/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com


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