It all ended sud­denly in a New­lands ho­tel room

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.”

PIC­TURES: TIM LANE AND EL­LIOT CARTLEDGE

HEY­DAY: Peter Roe­buck waits to bat for Som­er­set in 1982.

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