Ex-Proteas player pleads guilty to graft charges

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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

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

A for­lorn Gu­lam Bodi in the dock.

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