Ex-Proteas player pleads guilty to graft charges
FORMER Proteas batsman Gulam Bodi cut a lonely figure as he stood in the dock in court 13 in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court last week. Wearing a red T-shirt and jeans, Bodi glanced nervously around the courtroom before the proceedings got under way.
The 39-year-old was a shadow of his former self, as one of the most lethal batsmen in South Africa. He looked worn-out and drained, with tears running down his face.
When the proceedings started, Bodi clasped his hands together and tucked them behind his back as magistrate Nicola Setshogoe began reading out the corruption charges he was facing.
The former Titans, Lions and Dolphins cricketer glanced down at his feet as Setshogoe informed him that he potentially faced a minimum of 15 years behind bars, even as a first-time offender.
Bodi told the court he pleaded guilty to all eight corruption charges. He is being charged under a little-known act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, which makes provision for the prosecution of corrupt behaviour within sporting events.
The act was introduced after the 2000 match-fixing saga involving the late Proteas captain Hansie Cronjé.
In January 2016, Bodi was suspended by Cricket South Africa (CSA) for 20 years for his part in contriving to fix matches in the 2015 edition of the Ram Slam Challenge, South Africa’s premier T20 competition.
He was banned from participating in, or being involved in any capacity in any international or domestic match or any other kind of function, event or activity that was authorised, organised, sanctioned, recognised or supported in any way by the CSA, the International Cricket Council, national cricket federation or any member of a national cricket federation.
Six other players – Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe and Ethy Mbhalati – were also implicated in the match-fixing scandal of 2015 and could face jail time too.
Bodi’s legal representative, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, stressed his client had acknowledged his wrongdoing and pleaded for the court’s mercy.
Both the State and the defence told the court they needed more time to gather evidence and compile reports for sentencing procedures.
Setshogoe said she had no issue with a postponement, as the court acknowledged that Bodi handed himself in and had co-operated fully with the authorities since his arrest in July.
Outside the court, Bodi expressed remorse for his actions. “I’ve been banned for 20 years. That’s already a long sentence. I haven’t really been able to settle down for the past three years. It has been a constant battle,” he said.
“Just recently I managed to get a job and, after three years of running around and struggling, things started slowly looking a bit better, and now this comes up. It has completely shattered me.”
Bodi said he took full responsibility for his actions, and admitted he was battling to deal with the consequences.
“They pulled me out of school when I was just 16 and put me in a cricket academy. I don’t even have an education background to fall back on, so it’s been a real battle.
“This is going to greatly affect my job and my family, because nobody wants to be associated with a criminal.”
Mnguni hoped that “when we bring forward these issues to the court, in addition to the fact that he’s got three very young children and an elderly unemployed mother, whom he financially supports”, the court would take into account the remorse his client had shown throughout the investigation.
Bodi will return to court on January 28 for sentencing. Correspondent
A forlorn Gulam Bodi in the dock.