It all ended suddenly in a Newlands hotel room
This an edited extract from Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit received a brief containing Gondo’s statement at 3.50pm. By 5pm, he was at the local police complex in Claremont, where he rang Gondo and arranged to meet. By 7pm, he was in Gondo’s Pinelands home, about 10 minutes away from the hotel by car.
Another interview was carried out and Facebook communication that had purportedly occurred between Gondo and Roebuck was given to him. By 9.15pm, he was at the Southern Sun, where he met a Lieutenant Jacobs from Claremont in the foyer. After being informed that the hotel could not state whether Roebuck was in his room or not, McDonald requested the presence of the hotel’s security official. Together they took the lift to the sixth floor.
After the incident in the hotel room, Gondo was left reeling. Over the next four days, Tani attempted to placate him after he’d taken the matter to police. “I said this was not the way to proceed,” said Tani. “I wanted us to talk about this first, but events went too fast for us.”
He was right about events moving too fast. He and an increasingly anxious Roebuck exchanged a series of Facebook messages as the week wore on, against the backdrop of the South Africa vs Australia Test match at Cape Town’s Newlands ground: Tani: “Finally I spoke with Itai ... he said he is no longer interested in your assistance and that’s why he removed himself on Facebook.”
Roebuck: “Oh well, not too sure what he said. He was a bit strange but he needs a lot of help. He needs to call me or other way round. Sometimes things go wrong the first time but you have got to fight back.”
Tani: “Anyway Dad my advice would be to forget about him. We cannot force him because he doesn’t need anything to do with you or us.”
Roebuck: “Oh he’s depressed. Isn’t that dangerous? Think he needs to uplift his life. Sometimes I go a bit far in first meetings. I suppose outsiders not used to it ...”
Gondo then sent his final message to Roebuck:
“It’s funny how you ask me how I am doing as if what you did to me you find that justifiable? So that was your intention all along? To lure me and pretend you were interested in forming some father-like relationship, yet you(r) intention was to do the sick, pervert disgusting things you did to me? Well Mr roebuck, you can stuff whatever form of support you blatantly faked to be interested in. You have greatly humiliated me and I feel very violated, disgusted with myself, your acts were of the purest, sickest kind. It makes sense why you pretend to help out orphans, whilst you prey on their financial difficulty for your perverted satisfaction. I shudder to even think what sick sex related things you’re doing to those 17 boys staying with you! I don’t need your assistance, I don’t shake hands with devil, don’t bother replying for I will block you after this message. One day the long arm of the law will catch up with your evil misdeeds, rest assured, then all the money in the world won’t save you. Goodbye Mr Molester and GOOD RIDDANCE!
Roebuck must have felt his world closing in. He wrote to Tani: “Itai has sent me a nasty message and am sick about it. I will try to call him but not sure it’s any use. I’m upset, don’t tell anyone or they will worry.”
At 9.25pm, McDonald, Jacobs and the security official approached room 623 uncertain whether Roebuck was inside. The security man knocked on the door and it was promptly opened. A warrant was produced and permission to enter requested. Roebuck stepped aside, let the three men in and then sat on his bed. McDonald explained the purpose of their presence. He said Roebuck would be charged with sexual assault. Allegedly, Roebuck responded that he knew “this is about Itai, who visited on Monday”. He was then placed under arrest and read his rights.
The security official was excused from the room and Roebuck became agitated. He said he was well known in the media and the cricket world and his arrest would be front-page news. He raised the subject of his students in Pietermaritzburg and asked McDonald what was going to happen next. McDonald told him he would be taken to the Claremont police station and detained in the cells.
A formal charge would follow on Sunday and he would appear in court on Monday. The news distressed him. He was permitted to make a call and immediately rang fellow ABC cricket commentator Jim Maxwell, who was staying on the same floor. “He rang me in my room,” says Maxwell, “saying, ‘You’ve got to come down ... Something terrible has happened.’ He was wound up.”
As Maxwell reached the door of room 623, McDonald briefed him in the corridor. Inside, he found a dishevelled Roebuck sitting in a chair by the window, his pants lowered. “He was apoplectic,” remembers Maxwell. “He was so distraught, going on about me ringing up his boys to tell them he wouldn’t be able to catch a plane the next day. I imagine they had taken his computer. He was beside himself, in an awful emotional state. They only let me in the room for a minute or two.”
Embarrassed by his state, Roebuck stood and pulled his pants up. He pleaded with Maxwell to find a lawyer, a difficult task given the day and hour. “They were taking items of clothing, the sheets on the bed, everything; they were going to be evidence quite obviously. He was in a dither, on the other side of the bed, as I recall, and behind him was a chair and a sliding window. He was in a very agitated state. I said, ‘Can I ring Fairfax (Media, whose publications carried Roebuck’s columns) and get them to intercede in some way?’ and he said, ‘They’ll know soon enough!’ There wasn’t much more to it than that. McDonald was speaking mainly in Afrikaans to the other guy. He escorted me out of the room and then went back in.”
Maxwell, stunned, went straight back along the corridor. Before he entered his room, fellow ABC commentator Drew Morphett – who was right next door – stuck his head out of his room and asked what was going on. “So we stood one step inside my room and had this conversation,” Morphett recalls. “And he (Maxwell) said, ‘I’ve just come from Roeby’s room and he’s being investigated by two coppers on some sexual charges. They’re f****** going through all his gear. They’re looking at his underpants for signs of semen. When I last saw him he had his pants down around his ankles’.”
According to the official police version of events, McDonald told Jacobs he wanted to call the police photographer and would leave the room to do so. Jacobs replied by saying he would also make a call in order to arrange for police back-up. Under oath, Jacobs stated that he was standing diagonally opposite where Roebuck was sitting as he went to use his mobile. “When I lift (sic) my head up, I saw Peter Roebuck standing in the window. I screamed at him but he jumped without looking back.”
HEYDAY: Peter Roebuck waits to bat for Somerset in 1982.